From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The presidency has said the federal government has budgeted N125.09 billion to be spent on the Niger Delta in 2018.
It said this is in line with the Muhammadu Buhari administration’s new vision for the Niger Delta (#NDNewVision), to ensure that the people of the region benefit maximally from the wealth of their land.
The Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the Vice President, Laolu Akande, in a statement said, N71.20 billion is allocated in the 2018 Budget for the Niger Delta Development Commission, while N53.89 billion is allocated in the 2018 Budget for the Ministry of Niger Delta, up from the N34.20 billion provided in 2017.
According to him, So far, the Buhari administration has also taken actions to underscore its commitment to the people of the region.
He listed the actions to include: Increased Budgetary Allocation to Niger Delta Ministry and NDDC; Take-off of Maritime University in Delta State; Commencement of Ogoni Clean-up; Investments in Infrastructure: Bonny-Bodo Road and Ibaka Deep Sea Port; Approval for establishment of Export Processing Zone in Delta State; Approval for establishment of Modular Refineries and Presidential Amnesty Programme
The Maritime University in Okerenkoko, Delta State, Akande noted has now commenced operations, inviting job applications for academic staff. He added that President Buhari recently approved an increase in the take-off grant from the N2 billon earlier announced to N5 billion, which has already been included in the 2018 budget presented to the National Assembly last week, under the Federal Ministry of Education allocation.
Akande recalled that the implementation of the 2011 United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report on Ogoniland devastated by decades of oil spills started in June 2016.
He explained that an Inter-Ministerial committee on Hydrocarbon Pollution Restoration Project (HYPREP) under the Federal Ministry of Environment has been established.
He said, “HYPREP has since set up structures in place for the final take off of clean-up and restoration of the region devastated by oil spills. This shows the commitment of the FG to restore the region.
“Eight companies engaged to conduct Demonstration Clean-up Exercises in the four Local Government Areas of Ogoni Land, to enable HYPREP select the best and most suitable technology for the remediation work. These Demonstrations were recently concluded; the results are being studied by the Governing Council of the Ogoni Clean-up Project.
“HYPREP has also trained 15 indigenous Ogoni scientists on environmental assessment remediation.
“HYPREP assessed existing water facilities in Ogoni land in line with the UNEP recommendation report that potable water be provided for Ogoni following pollution of water sources in region by oil spills.
“Health impact assessment study to be done to ascertain whether there is a link between some disease patterns and oil pollution in the affected communities.
“Bids have been invited for consultancy on provision of water, health study and environmental remediation.”