Indications emerged on Tuesday that Federal Government and oil companies owe total sums of N2.787 trillion and $485.336 million.

Nsima Ekere, Managing Director of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) disclosed this at the opening of investigative hearing into all outstanding suns due to NDDC, chaired by Ahmed Chachangi.

Breakdown of the amount showed that Federal Government defaulted in the remittance of 15% of federal allocation due to Niger Delta member states to the tune of N1.317 trillion out of total sum of N1.932 trillion since 2000 to date.

In addition, Federal Government paid total sum of N45.091 billion leaving outstanding indebtedness of N1.362 trillion due to NDDC from the Ecological Fund.

According to him, out of total sum of $500.003 million and N516.149 billion due to be paid by the 45 registered oil companies to NDDC between the period under review, the sum of $4.544 million and N407.860 billion were paid so far, leaving outstanding indebtedness of $458.336 million and N108.290 billion.

On the efforts made so far to recover the fund, Ekere disclosed that the Commission dragged some of the erring contributors to Court including NLNG, adding that the Commission is working with DPR and NAPIMS to update list of new companies coming into the industry.

He also urged the House to give the Commission the power to sanction in the next amendment of the NDDC Act.

Ekere alleged that NLNG has refused to provide details of its full annual budget to NDDC with the view to determine the statutory of 3% levy provided for in the NDDC Act.

He also debunked report that NLNG is owing paltry sum of N300 million, just as he challenged NLNG to produce evidence of its annual budget.

He also noted that the present administration has initiated reform plan which resulted into Works Bank grant of $200 million, which is yet to be accessed.

While declaring the investigative hearing open, Speaker Yakubu Dogara explained that the exercise was to ascertain whether those funds were utilized in compliance with the provisions of the extant law.

Dogara who was represented by Pally Iriase, Deputy Chief Whip, noted that the NDDC Act was initiated as part of efforts geared toward facilitating rapid, even and sustainable development of the region to an economically prosperous, socially stable, ecologically regenerative and politically peaceful region.

“It is common knowledge that the NDDC has been greatly constrained in carrying out its objectives in the region, in view of the various complaints and allegations against the authorities of the Commission.

“The House is determined to verify these allegations, with a view to getting all the facts to enable us make necessary resolutions that will change the trend of things in the region,” Dogara assured.

Speaking earlier, Ahmed Chachangi, who presided over the investigative hearing expressed concern over the allegations bothering on non remittance and underpayment by the oil companies and Federal Government.

“These allegations of non remittances and underpayments, whether by government or by statutorily obliged private corporations, cannot be treated with levity any longer, unless the laws of our land do not mean anything to us.

“Laws are sacrosanct and must be obeyed by all persons. Particularly, developmental laws such as the NDDC Act are engineered to facilitate development and foster social stability and national cohesion. We cannot therefore, stand aloof while the entire region remains deprived especially as a result of clear noncompliance with existing laws.

“There have been repeated agitations, perhaps louder than ever before, for better living conditions, improved amenities, acceptable environmental standard and greater resource control, in ways and manners that have impacted the business environment adversely and at great social and economic cost to the country as a whole “chachangi said”

Source: Business day


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