NDDC Defends N1.9tn 2024 Budget Before Senate, Plans to Borrow N1tn

•Earmarks N100bn for debt repayments annually for 10 years

Sunday Aborisade in Abuja

The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) yesterday defended N1.911trillion as its 2024 Budget before the Senate Committee on the NDDC.

Managing Director of the agency, Dr. Samuel Ogbuku, presented the estimates of the fiscal document to the senators, in company with top management staff of the commission and the NDDC board members.

He said the budget was prepared to prioritise improvement in security, job creation, youth and women empowerment, social welfare, education and infrastructure, among others.

According to him, “the proposed budget seeks to move the Commission from transaction to transformation,” saying it was a product of participatory budgeting process that involved all the major stakeholders in the Niger Delta Region with the theme “Budget of Renewed Hope Agenda”.

He said, “In preparing the 2024 Budget, our primary objective has been to sustain our robust foundation for sustainable economic development.”

He put the agency’s outstanding revenue from last fiscal year at N12 billion and arrears owed by the federal government and recoveries by federal agencies at N170 billion.

Ogbuku, said the agency proposed to borrow N1 trillion; projected N324 billion as the federal government’s contribution and anticipated to receive N25 billion as ecology fund.

The Managing Director added that the commission was expecting N375 billion as oil companies’ contributions and projected N5 billion as an internally generated revenue.

On expenditure, he said the NDDC planned to spend N38.545 billion as personnel cost; Overhead cost of N29.246 billion and Internal Capital of N8.785 billion.

Ogbuku, added that the agency would fund legacy projects with the N1trillion it intends to borrow from commercial and development banks while additional N835.222 billion was proposed for project development.

He said, “As of April 30th 2024, the Commission’s actual aggregate revenue inflow was N683.2 billion, approximately 78 per cent of the targeted N876 billion.

“This comprise N146.4 billion representing (122%) from the federal government and N394.5 billion representing (141%) from Oil & Gas Companies. We had a carry forward of N105billion from 2023 representing (2117%).

“Investing in critical infrastructure is a key component of our fiscal strategy under the 2024 Budget Proposals.

“The present management has noted that the Commission alone would not be able to effectively address the development challenges in the Niger Delta region.

“Towards this end, we are re-navigating Its process of intervention by adopting Public-Private-Partnership model as a vehicle to drive a sustainable development in the Niger Delta Region.

“Accordingly, to this end, we are in partnership with the Industrial Training Fund to gainfully engage the youth of the region to reduce crime, economic sabotage.”

On indebtedness, he said the agency made a provision for payment of legacy debt in the budget.

He added, “What we have there is about a hundred million which we believe if we phase out this, maybe in the next 10 years, we should have been able to pay off most of all these legacy debts.

“Some of these debts are even 20 years old. Some of them are 15 years old, but they are not debts you can pay in one year.

“So we just want to phase them within a period of maybe 10 years. That’s why we made that estimate provision.”

He said the agency was also in partnership with the Niger Delta Chamber of Commerce, Trade, Mines, and Agriculture (NDCCTIMA). Several Organisations and State Governments have approached the Commission for partnerships and we are currently engaging them to fine tune the process.

He said, “The main emphasis will be the completion of as many ongoing legacy projects that have advanced greatly.

“It is our expectation that by the end of the 2024 fiscal year we would have completed more than 200km of roads across the Niger Delta Region, as we understand that our people have different expectations on the Budget of NDDC and they believe the Commission will respond to all their demands.

“However, the reality is that resources are limited and no Budget can ever meet and satisfy the yearnings of each and every member of the rural communities.

“We can only devote our efforts to providing support for the needs of the greater number of our people.

“Our fiscal reforms shall introduce new performance management frameworks to regulate the overhead cost.

“Accordingly, only activities that are tied to measurable programmes will be approved.

“We have moved away from the previously line item budgeting system to sectoral allocation of fund to encourage performance and we are confident that this will shore up productivity.”

The Chairman of the Senate Committee on the NDDC, Asuquo Ekpenyong, tasked the agency’s management to ensure prompt submission of their annual budgets.

A member of the Committee, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, said the panel in the 10th Senate, would carry out massive oversight functions on the projects and activities of the NDDC more than ever before.

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