The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has petitioned the Senate over Federal Government’s inability to pay N1.8 trillion being owed the commission between 2000 and 2015.
The amount according to the letter, which was addressed to the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, said that from its calculations the sum of N1, 797,713,966,652.29 was owed it in unpaid statutory allocations and N45, 091,075,401.66 unpaid ecological funds for the period of 15 years.
The letter dated February 21 2017 and received by the Office of the President of the Senate on February 23 2017 was signed by the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the commission, Nsima Ekere.
In the letter titled: “Status of NDDC and Outstanding Statutory Payments,” Ekere urged President Buhari to direct the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun to immediately commence the full implementation of funding provisions of the NDDC Act 2000 section 14(2)(a) & (c).
Ekere, who appeared before the Senate Committee on Niger Delta Affairs led by Senator Peter Nwaoboshi, (PDP, Delta North) said that the petition to the President became imperative because following a directive by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo that contractors should go back to sites, the office was inundated with requests from contractors asking for payments.
He added that if the NDDC must deliver on its mandate, it must be adequately funded in line with the Act establishing it, adding that the only source of funding comes from the International Oil Companies which form 85 percent.
It also asked the President to direct the Minister of Finance to set up a joint committee with the Commission that would reconcile and agree outstanding claims due it over the years as a result of the under payments as well as develop a mutually acceptable payment plan to ensure these payments are made on time.
Meanwhile, Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udo Udoma told the committee that the problem lies with releases, adding that it was a legal issue and that whatever was owed the commission should be given to it.
Chairman of the Committee on NDDC, Peter Nwaoboshi urged the federal government to pay off the money for the overall interest of the people of the Niger Delta. He added that the meeting was convened because the government refused to pay, adding that it is a matter of law, which must be adhered to.
In the Prayers, Ekere said, “Mr. President, in light of the afore-mentioned, is most respectfully invited to consider and approve the following: A directive to the Honorable Minister of Finance to immediately commence the full implementation of funding provisions of the NDDC Act 2000 section 14(2)(a) & (c).