The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Dr. Usani Uguru Usani has lamented that the Ministry has been able to access only 10 percent of its 2018 budget.
According to him, the ministry could only access 74 percent of the its 2017 budget leading to many abandoned projects in the region.
The Minister said about 74 percent of the 2017 budgetary allocation was released to the Ministry while about 10 percent has so far been released from the 2018 budget.
The Minister said this when members of the House of Representatives Committee on Niger Delta came on oversight function to the Ministry in Abuja, recently.
The Minister who expressed his concern on the lingering challenge of completing the various housing projects it was constructing said the Ministry was considering the option of allocating the houses to various beneficiaries for completion and proper maintenance.
He said, the Ministry is handling housing projects in the nine states of the region, some of which have been completed and awaiting allocation.
On the East West Road Project, Usani said that the Ministry was mandated to transfer Sections 1 to 4 of the project to the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) for completion.
He noted that the process of transferring the project may further delay the completion of the flagship project as it was preparing a response to the directive.
Earlier, the Chairman of the Committee, Hon. Essien Ayi said the mass housing projects in the region had become ‘abandoned projects’ and ‘dens of criminals.’
According to him, it would be better to allocate the houses in their uncompleted stages to the rightful beneficiaries and allow them complete the houses while the Ministry deploys subsequent allocations to other projects like skills acquisition centres which he said will be more beneficial to indigenes of the region.
He explained that the Committee was in the Ministry to know the level of performance of the 2017 and 2018 budgets, particularly the level of funding of projects in various states in the region.
He reiterated the need for the Ministry to always take input from both the Senate and House of Representatives Committees on Niger Delta, in preparing the Ministry’s budget proposals in a bid to reduce legislative and executive friction during budget passage exercise.