Supplementary Budget Underway for Niger Delta

2009-10-11
THIS DAY NEWSPAPER-Collins Edomaruse

A supplementary budget to give effect to President Umaru Musa YarAdua’s new development plan for the Niger Delta is to be forwarded to the National Assembly soon, THISDAY investigation has revealed.
We also gathered that the supplementary budget option was taken by the government as a practical way of demonstrating its seriousness and desire to push through its development agenda for the region.
Our investigation also show that the leadership of the National Assembly has already bought into the President’s budgetary option and is indeed waiting for the document to be sent to it to give the process accelerated action and passage before the end of the year.
This came as details emerged, yesterday, of the offers President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua made to the people of the Niger Delta following the end of amnesty period, some of which were tabled in a meeting with ex-militants at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa on Friday.
In a speech, he informed the ex-militants that he invited them to discuss his plans for the Niger Delta.
The plans, according to THISDAY investigation, include:
*Community ownership, which will allow the people of oil-bearing communities in the region up to 10 percent stake in all joint venture businesses. Under the president’s plan, 5 per cent stake in all joint venture businesses would also be exclusively accessed by all Nigerians, of which people of Niger Delta will have upto 1 per cent direct individual participation;
*New Infrastructure: Under this plank, the President will embark on the dualisation and completion of the east-west highway. This will also entail a design and building of a new fast train system from Calabar to Benin City in the first phase and from Benin City to Lagos in the second phase;
*The completion of the Ajaokuta – Warri rail system, which will be extended to Warri Port to give maritime traffic to the rail line and “designated the central line.” It will also be extended from Ajaokuta to Abuja and the north, and a container terminal will be built in Owa-Oyibu, Delta State, to service the east. Owa-Oyibu is a strategic location because of the existence of a rail hub in the area;
*The government also plans a massive funding of the Niger Delta Ministry and the Niger Delta Devel-opment commission (ND-DC) to be able to intervene in most communities in the area with respect to infrastructural development.
The ownership scheme will be reflected in the new Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) while the infrastructural devrelopment with be presented as supplementary budget to National Assembly after the imputs of Niger Delta Stakeholders including ex-militants.
Also at the meeting on Friday were governors of the Niger Delta states.
Speaking on behalf of the governors, Edo State governor, Comrade Adams Oshio-mhole, said: “Never in the history of Nigeria has any leader shown the kind of sincere commitment to the Niger Delta cause we have seen in Yar’Adua.”
He also said if former leaders have shown half of the commitment Yar’Adua has shown on the Niger Delta, the situation would not have deteriorated to the level we saw before the amnesty.
After Yar’Adua’s presentation of his plans, the governors and the ex-militants went on to debate the recommendations and decided to reconvene later this week after consulting with their people back home.

 

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