*Commission still implementing 2018 budget appropriation Act
*say FG, oil firms, others owing commission over N2.7trn
By Christiana Ekpa
The House of Representatives on Wednesday revealed that the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, was still operating on the 2018 budget approved by the National Assembly contrary to the Act that set it put.
The Chairman of the House Committee on NDDC, Hon Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo made the revelation at the inaugural sitting of the Committee in Abuja.
According to him, “as we speak, the Commission is yet to submit its 2019 budget appropriation to the National Assembly for approval in line with the Act that sets it up not to talk of the 2020 one.
“Section 18(1) of the NDDC states: “The Board shall not later than 30th September submit to the National Assembly through President and Commander -in- Chief of the Armed Forces an estimate of the expenditure and income of the Commission during the succeeding year for approval
“Today is October 9th, the Commission is yet to bring the budget for the 2019 fiscal year not to talk of the 2020 of which the Mr. President submitted before the Assembly on Tuesday, what has Commission been operating with?
“You don’t budget on scenario, you budget for the future, so we need the budget appropriation, so that we can work on it for the final approval of the National Assembly.
“I want to say it here loud and clear that in the Ninth National Assembly under the leadership of Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila and myself as the Chairman of the NDDC Committee, it is not going to be business as usual, we have to operate in line with the Act that sets up the Commission, so, we need the budget now.”
Speaking on the huge financial burden threatening the fulfilment of the Commission’s core mandate to the region, Hon Tunji-Ojo lamented the none remittance of their statutory contributions by the development partners
According to him, “as the June 2019, outstanding remittances of Oil companies and Gas processing companies stand at N1.2 trillion, the
Federal Government on its part has an outstanding of over N1.5 trillion, Ecological Fund Office has never remitted any money and the Commission has accumulated debts to the tune of over a trillion naira.
Speaking on the way forward, the Chairman promised that inline with the Legislative Agenda of the Ninth National Assembly and the anti-corruption stance of the Federal government, the Committee would seek to improve its budgetary and oversight processes in order to curb corruption and waste, ensure fiscal discipline and promote good governance inline with the law of the land.
He urged members of the Committee to brace up for the task ahead in ensuring that the Commission deliver on its core mandate for the people of the Region
In their contributions members pledged their readiness to deliver the goods and made the Committee the best since the inception of the Commission.