By Ikechukwu Okaforadi
The Federal Government and critical stakeholders in the Niger Delta region yesterday gathered in Abuja to brainstorm over how to raise alternative funding plan for the development of the Niger Delta region to the tune of about ten billion naira.
According to the proposal presented before the federal government delegation led by the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Usani Uguru Usani, the alternative funding plan will be generated through the private sector, including commercial banks, international and local oil companies.
The aim of the fund is to fast track the development projects and social welfare in the Niger Delta region, especially at the time when the federal government finances are grossly reduced to sustain the development initiatives in the region.
The proposal, which was presented to the stakeholders during the meeting of Ministers, Governors of Niger Delta region and Chief Executive of International Oil and Gas Companies, IOCs in Abuja.
The Minister, in his explanation at the meeting said the programme is designed to shift emphasis from public sector driven investment on infrastructural development in the oil region to private sector, but under the regulation and supervision of the federal government.
Usani Uguru Usani further emphasized the need for alternative source of funding for the region, saying the development need of Niger Delta region is enormous. He pointed out that the proposal would be forwarded to the Technical Committee to take urgent and appropriate action on it.
“This is the first quarter session of the platform for collaborating and development agencies operating in the region of Niger Delta, on which the state governments of the region are represented,
International oil Companies, and other agencies such as Nigerian Content Management and Monitoring Board, the Presidential Amnesty office, the NDDC, and usually, the NNPC is involved.
“The essence of this particular session includes, conveying the fact that the final copy of the implementation plan is ready for presentation to inter-ministerial l committee.
“Remember, this work plan is not just at the development plan but essentially to execute the monetary and evaluation component of the development plan in the region, which will enable us track our development procedure process and also quality and content.
“Once it is presented, at the inter-ministerial committee, headed by the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, it will then be given endorsement at the Federal Executive Council, FEC. All of us and the agencies who have endorsed that idea will follow it as a guide for development programme in the region”, he said.
The funds would be sourced in partnership with the Federal Government from the development partners, International Oil and Gas Companies, IOCs, Sovereign wealth fund, both national and international,
Commercial Banks, cooperative Banks and insurance companies, will be pool together under Niger Delta Investment Fund, NDIF, for investors to access and executive meaningful development in the region.
Making a power point presentation at the meeting, the Founder and CEO of Henshaw Capital Partners, Barbara James, said public funding of projects in the region have been retrogressive especially because of poor monitoring and evaluation.
She pointed out that over $40 billion public funds was reportedly spent on projects execution in the region in the last sixteen years without commiserate infrastructure on the ground in the region, “Hence the need to approach private sector partnership mechanism”, she said .