Is money really the block to development?
30 July 2011
By FIDELIS SORIWEI
FIDELIS SORIWEI writes that unless the Federal Government takes a second look at the issue of meagre budgetary allocation for critical projects in the Niger Delta, the quest for lasting peace in the region might be elusive
The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godsday Orubebe, did not pretend about the huge challenges of development facing the region. On his first day in office in the ministry on July 4, 2011, Orubebe repeated his concern about the paucity of funds, which he blamed for the delay in the actualisation of the planned development of the region.
The minister was reacting to comments that the Niger Delta Ministry, which was created to coordinate the development of the area in the heat of militancy in the oil-rich region, had not done much to change the face of development in the area. He blamed the slow pace of developmental interventions in the region on inadequate budgetary provisions for project execution. He insisted that competing demands for funds by other sectors of the polity might have made it difficult for the desired sum of money to be appropriated and released to execute the ongoing projects in the area.
Orubebe said the actualisation of the planned infrastructural development of the long-deprived region had come under threat from inadequate funding of developmental activities of the ministry. He said, for instance, that while the ministry had N155bn as budgetary estimate, only N55bn was appropriated for all the activities of the ministry, including project execution. He said that the paucity of funds for developmental projects was responsible for the seeming slow pace of construction work on the
East West Road
. The road has been a screaming metaphor of governmental neglect and a source of the people’s anger against the Federal Government before the creation of the ministry.