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Senate passes NDDC N1.9trn 2024 budget despite some lapses

The Senate passed the Niger Delta Development Commission 2024 Statutory Budget Proposal of N1.911 trillion despite some observed lapses.

The passage of budget was due to the consideration of the report of the Committee on Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to that effect by the chairman, Senator Asuquo, Ekpenyong (Cross River South).

Shortly after presenting the budget, Senator Solomon Olamilekan (Ogun West) observed that the Chairman of NDDC Committee was silent on the performance on2023 performance upon which the 2024 was predicated.

The Senate President, Godswill Akpabio had to contend with complaints on observed lapses by senators who made contributions to the general principles of the appropriation bll.

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The Chairman of the Committee, Senator Ekpenyong Asuquo, representing Cross River South Senatorial District, submitted its report in less than 12 hours after the public hearing on the budget, where the NDDC Managing Director, Dr. Samuel Ogbuku, appeared for defence of the budget.

Senator Solomon Adeola Olamilekan (Ogun West) was the first to pick holes in the report and queried how the budget performance of the agency for 2023 was not properly assessed before approving the 2024 budget in line with the legislative tradition.

Olamilekan said, it amounts to process abuse for a proposal to be adopted without finding how the previous year budget was executed to justify fresh proposal.

“There is no mention of the performance of 2023 budget, so on what is the proposal for 2024 predicated?”, Olamilekan queried.

Speaking in the same vein, Senator Adamu Aliero Kebbi Central explained that NDDC has proposed to borrow N1 trillion in the budget proposal which he observed is not in the borrowing plan of the Federal Government.

The former governor of Kebbi state admonished NDDC, as a child of necessity must use the money appropriated to it to serve the interest of the people, adding that NDDC’s budget is more than two states put together without the impact been felt.

“NDDC is a child of necessity and the money must be used in the interest of the people, even as its budget is more than two states and we have not seen much”.

Senator Seriake Dickson (Bayelsa West) called for support of NDDC having gone past forensic audit so that request for borrowing could be brought later by President Bola Tinubu.

Senator Adams Oshiomhole, in his contribution, maintained that things have improved in the NDDC and explained that the President could write to the Senate for borrowing after the budget might have been passed into law, urging lawmakers not to “judge the NDDC by its dirty past”.

He recalled how the South South governors called for forensic audit of accounts of the NDDC. “Mr. President, you recalled that we as governors agreed that forensic audit of NDDC be carried out. This was done and jobs done were paid and those not done were separated.”

After contributions, Senate President, Godswill Akpabio called for vote and the budget was passed into law.

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