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December 14, 2023
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Senate summons ministers on Niger Delta ministry’s budget

The joint committee of the Senate and House of Representatives has called on Finance Minister Wale Edun and Budget and Economic Planning Minister Abubakar Bagudu to join them in the ongoing budget defense for the Niger Delta Development Ministry. This summons follows the appearance of Niger Delta Development Minister Abubakar Momoh before the joint committee on Thursday.

During the session, Senator Seriake Dickson proposed an indefinite adjournment until both Finance and Budget Ministers, along with the Niger Delta Development Minister, clarify issues related to the ministry’s budgetary constraints and project funding. Minister Momoh shared the 2023 budget performance, revealing that only N4bn out of N11bn allocated had been released, causing challenges in project execution.

Expressing concerns about the insufficient budget, Momoh highlighted the impact on project abandonment and unpaid projects, urging lawmakers for increased support in the 2024 budget. Responding to questions on training and empowerment, he emphasized the need for adequate funding to avoid slowing down progress.

When questioned about President awareness, Momoh acknowledged the challenges of the government awarding contracts without timely payments and requested legislative intervention in streamlining the payment process.

Acknowledging the poor budget performance, Momoh attributed it to the transition year but assured swift project completion once the National Assembly approves the appropriation. He discussed the limitations of the allocated budget for significant projects and requested additional funding, including through Sukuk.

Momoh addressed the East-West road’s status as a signature project, expressing his focus on it but noted its reversal to the Ministry of Works in 2021. He outlined challenges in concentrating funds on specific signature projects due to the ministry’s interventionist role across nine states.

In conclusion, Minister Momoh pledged a different approach under his leadership in the Niger Delta Development Ministry. Senator Dickson commended his experience and moved a motion, seconded by Senator Mudashiru Lukeman, to suspend the budget defense.

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