Senate Passes NDDC’s N1.911tn 2024 Budget with N1tn Borrowing Plan, Commission Applauds Lawmakers

…Okays N98.5bn FCT appropriation bill  

…Passes bill for South East Devt Commission

Sunday Aborisade in Abuja and Blessing Ibunge in Port Harcourt

The Senate yesterday passed the N1.911 trillion budget of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) for the 2024 fiscal year.

The federal lawmakers also passed the N98.5billion Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Supplementary Appropriation Bill, 2024.

This is as they also concurred with the House of Representatives and okayed the South East Development Commission (SEDC) Bill.

The upper chamber passed the NDDC appropriation bill after considering a report submitted by its Committee on NDDC, which was presented by its Chairman, Senator Asuquo Ekpenyong.

Reacting, the interventionist agency applauded the federal lawmakers, saying the speedy passage of the budget would enable it to continue providing critical infrastructure and services to the people of the Niger Delta region.

The budget was passed with a borrowing plan of N1 trillion for funding of “legacy” projects in the Niger Delta region.

The lawmakers also approved N835.2 billion for project development while N38.5 billion was approved for proposed personnel.

The sum of N29.2 billion was passed as overhead cost and N8.7 billion was approved as cost for internal capital.

The budget was presented to the Senate Committee on NDDC on Monday with an assurance that it would address unemployment, lack of education, poor healthcare system, construction of roads and sustain the economic development of the Niger Delta region.

Ekpeyong, while presenting the report at yesterday’s plenary, claimed that his committee had scrutinised estimates of the budget as proposed by the NDDC.

He thereafter urged his colleagues to support the passage.

However, the senator did not provide the budget performance of the NDDC in the previous year.

Commenting, the Senate President, Senator Godswill Akpabio said the borrowing plan of the NDDC would follow due process, adding that the Senate would ensure the funds are judiciously utilised.

“Before they go and borrow N1 trillion, they must follow due process.

This is not the end of the budget.  We are still going for an oversight function,” Akpabio added.

Also yesterday, the Senate approved the sum of N98.5billion in the FCT Supplementary Appropriation Bill, 2024.

The passage of the Bill was sequel to the consideration of the report of the Senate Committee on FCT during plenary.

The Senate had last week stepped down the Bill, saying the details of the budget needed to accompany it.

The Vice Chairman of the Committee, Senator Osita Ngwu (PDP – Enugu West) presented the report on behalf of the Chairman of the Committee, Senator Bomai Mohammed (APC – Yobe South) who was absent during plenary.

Similarly, the Senate yesterday adopted the conference report of the SEDC Bill.

The adoption followed the presentation of the conference committee report on the Bill at plenary by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, Senator Mohammed Monguno (APC – Borno North).

The Bill titled: “A bill for an Act to establish the South East Development Commission, charged with the responsibility of, among other things, receiving and managing funds from allocation of the federation account.

It will be used for the construction and rehabilitation of roads, houses and other infrastructural damages suffered by the region.

The infrastructural challenges were as a result of the civil war and ecological problems, as well as any other related environmental or developmental challenges faced by the South-east and for related matters.

 The bill was read the third time and passed by the Senate on February 22, 2024.

The Bill seeks to establish the commission to manage infrastructural development such as the construction and rehabilitation of roads, houses and others in the South-eastern region.

The agitation for the establishment of the commission started many years ago.

The Bill to establish the commission was passed by members of the 8th Senate but former President Muhammadu Buhari did not assent to it.

Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Benjamin Kalu, and some other lawmakers from the South-east reintroduced the bill in the lower chamber last year.

The House passed the bill last December and transmitted it to the Senate for concurrence.

Commission Hails Lawmakers

Meanwhile, NDDC has applauded the Senate for passing the commission’s N1.911trillion 2024 statutory budget.

In a statement released yesterday shortly after the Senate assented to the budget, the Managing Director of NDDC, Dr Samuel Ogbuku said the speedy passage of the budget would enable the commission to continue providing critical infrastructure and services to the people of the Niger Delta region.

According to the statement signed by the Director, Corporate Affairs, Mr. Pius Ughakpoteni, the NDDC boss said that the 2024 appropriation, anchored on the theme: “Budget of Renewed Hope,” would help the Commission to implement the Renewed Hope Agenda of President Bola Tinubu.

“We are grateful to the Senate for their support and commitment to developing the Niger Delta region. The passage of this budget will enable us to continue providing critical infrastructure and services to the region’s people,” Ogbuku said.

The managing director promised that the funds allocated in the budget would be used judiciously, following due process.

He said that the NDDC would work tirelessly to ensure that its projects are completed on time and to the highest standards.

Ogbuku also called on all stakeholders in the region to support the NDDC in its efforts to develop the region.

The NDDC boss, who had appeared before the Senate Committee on Monday, used the opportunity to inform the committee that the commission would invest in critical infrastructure as a key component of its fiscal strategy under the 2024 Budget Proposals.

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

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