Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt and Sylvester Idowu in Warri
The Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Mr. Nsima Ekere, has appealed to the House of Representatives’ Committee on NDDC to assist the commission recover outstanding funds and also properly address the issue of the federal government’s indebtedness to it.
Ekere made the appeal when members of the committee, led by its Chairman, Hon. Nicholas Mutu, paid him a courtesy visit at the commission’s headquarters in Port Harcourt.
He said the commission would appreciate an expedited process that would enable it access funds to continue to work for the peace and progress of the Niger Delta region.
Ekere reminded the committee that it had started a process which was yet to be concluded. He said: “I recall that you had invited the Accountant-General of the Federation and some officials of the Ministry of Finance on the issue of the outstanding payments due to the NDDC from the Federation Account. That issue is still pending and the reconciliation which the President ordered is yet to be concluded.
“We will appreciate your usual support to push the process forward so that we can access these funds that will enable us to continue to work for the peace and progress of the Niger Delta region. You would have noticed that in the last two years, the region has been experiencing peace and tranquillity. This is largely because of the projects being undertaken by the Federal Government under President Muhammadu Buhari and the NDDC.”
The NDDC boss said the new found peace in the region had helped the oil and gas industry to thrive and produce optimally, translating to more fund inflow into the Federation Account.
He expressed optimism that the Ministry of Finance would reciprocate by helping the NDDC to recover some of the funding that are still outstanding, noting that President Muhammadu Buhari had directed the Federal Ministry of Finance and the Federal Ministry of Budget and National Planning to work with the NDDC in reconciling all statutory obligations due to the commission and agree on an immediate payment plan.
Ekere thanked the House of Representatives and the Senate for successfully championing the amendment of the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Limited (NLNG), (fiscal incentives, guaranteed and assurances) Act of 2004 which stripped the NLNG of its immunity from financial contributions to the NDDC.
“That is something that we are grateful for because it helped the NDDC to realise funds with which to pay contractors for the projects they are handling,” he said.
Ekere remarked: “We will like to place on record the wonderful support which the NDDC continues to enjoy from your committee and the National Assembly as a whole. We convey our appreciation to your committee and the National Assembly leadership for the support you have been giving to the NDDC and by extension the Niger Delta region.
“It is also on record that through your support we have been able to recover a lot of revenue from the oil and gas companies operating in the Niger Delta region. The companies that had hitherto failed to fulfil their financial obligations are now cooperating.”
Earlier, Mutu told the NDDC boss that they were at the Commission as part of their oversight function.
“We are basically interested in examining the books and keeping tract with development efforts by inspecting on-going projects,” he said.
He thanked the board and management of the NDDC for living up to expectations and assured them that his committee would be a partner in progress.