Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Emmanuel Kachikwu, has said that over $40 billion has been spent in the Niger Delta in the last 10 years without anything to show for it.
The minister, who spoke through his Special Adviser on Niger Delta Affairs, Mr. Charles Achodo, at the Seventh Sustainability in the Extractive (SITEI) conference in Abuja, also disclosed that N1.7 trillion would be invested in the region between now and 2021 to pursue the development of the region.
He said: “The Niger Delta has become a cacophony of voices, but without a purpose. It has also become a region with a cacophony of all kinds of projects. If you look closely from the past 10 years, up to $40 billion has been made available for that region and you can never tour the Niger Delta and see a N1 billion or a N500 million investment, but I am telling you, collectively, for the past 10 years, that was what has gone into that region.”
He also stated that the current Presidential Amnesty Programme of the Federal Government is not sustainable, adding that the programme could not be a solution to the Niger Delta crisis, especially as the huge money expended on the programme cannot guarantee peace in the region.
“The amnesty is very clear, and it cannot be a solution to the state of insecurity in the Niger Delta. Rather, you use the amnesty to create an asymmetrical environment. A fragile environment does not like asymmetry; it likes more of a symmetrical response.
“A situation where you are paying people N65,000 every month to keep quiet, that does not solve the problem. If you multiply N65,000 by the number of militants and by the number of years the programme had been running, you are looking at close to N50 billion. That is a huge amount of money. It is not sustainable and it is not guaranteeing you what you expect in the place,” he noted.
The minister re-emphasised that $40 billion had been invested in 11,000 projects in the region over the last 10 years without concrete evidence, noting that this led to the launch of the Niger Delta Development Compact by the Federal Government to mobilise N1.7 trillion to the region in the short to medium term.
According to him, the $40 billion investment was made through the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs and other government agencies.
Speaking further, he said: “That amount was basically what was invested through NDDC and the Ministry of Niger Delta. If you check them, for instance, the NDDC has close to 11,000 contracts. With these contracts, mostly owned and held by people from the region, then you can understand that we are the ones doing ourselves in, for not implementing those projects. Eleven thousand contracts and if you distribute them all along, you are looking at close to $40 billion in terms of investment. Go to the Ministry of Niger Delta, it is the same thing.
“When you look at the Niger Delta Development Compact, which we have, which covered the short term, medium term, from now till 2021, you are looking at a total investment of N1.7 trillion that is earmarked for the region and that covered what the oil companies are putting into the region, what government agencies are putting into the region and all kinds of investments that are required in that region.”
He identified weak institutions as the major challenge in the Niger Delta, stating that a situation where oil companies are called upon to provide certain amenities was unfair to the companies and a sign of irresponsibility on the part of government.