The Chairman of Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, Chief Edwin Clark, has condeamed the lopsidedness of the 2017 budget and appointments as they affect the Niger Delta region, describing it as worrisome.
Clark, who stated this in his address at the General Assembly of PANDEF held yesterday, in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, recommended that a six-man expert committee should be immediately set up to examine the 2017 budget before it was passed into law.
He equally urged the Federal Government to re-visit some appointments made earlier by President Muhamnadu Buhari, saying that such lopsided appointments were detrimental and unfavourable to the people of Niger Delta as well as in the interest of national unity and peace in the region.
He said: “For some time now, since the creation of the interventionist agencies for the Niger Delta region such as the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, the Presidential Amnesty Programme, PAP and the Ministry of Niger Delta, I think there has been a deliberate attempt to short-cut the region.
“In most cases, what is voted for one major infrastructural project in the other regions is far more than the entire budget for one of the interventionist agencies in the Niger Delta.
“As a matter of fact, the amount allocated to Lagos State Government by the Federal Ministry of Works is more than that allocated to the South East and South South geo-political zones which comprise 11 states which got N52.8billion. This is worrisome.
“This year, the total budget for the Niger Delta including salaries, wages and projects is N33 billion out of which N6.55 billion is for the completion of the East-West Road. This amount is about 61 per cent of the N54.2 billion allocated to the Lagos State by only one ministry, the Ministry of Works.
“I am, therefore, recommending that an expert committee of not more than six persons be set up to examine the present budget before it is passed into law.”
The leader of PANDEF who expressed the hope that the recent fact finding tour of the region by the Vice President on behalf of the Federal Government would bring the desired and expected development to the region, noting that the Federal Government should not pay lip service to its directive that oil companies should relocate their headquarters to their operational areas.
He said that it was unfair and cruel for states such as Lagos to continue to receive so much revenue from oil companies while the communities where the oil explorations go on get nothing except polluted water and land.