By Emeka Okafor
Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, has disclosed that International Oil Companies (ICOs) operating in Nigeria are indebted to the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to the tune of over $4 billion.
Akpabio, a former governor of Akwa Ibom State, said the amount formed the three per cent of ICOs annual budgets expected to be statutorily paid to the interventionist agency.
Speaking on Thursday at the weekly ministerial briefing organised by the Presidential Communication Team at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, the minister said none of the ICOs has remitted to the commission.
According to him, ICOs are required to provide 3% of their annual budgets to the commission as their statutory contribution to the funding of NDDC for the development of Niger Delta region.
He added that efforts were already in top gear to get the ICOs to pay their debts.
However, disclosed that the commission is indebted to contractors to the tune of three trillion naira (N3trn)
He explained that not all contracts awarded with costs could be regarded as debt.
According to him, the over N600 billion of emergency contracts that had been awarded had not been implemented and cannot, therefore, be regarded as NDDC debt.
Akpabio, while giving updates on the progress in the commission, said about 109 projects had been implemented Niger Delta states.
He said the NDDC diverted the sum of N10 billion from other projects to execute the East-West road in view of its critical importance to the people of the region.
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Akpabio disclosed that he had written to President Muhammadu Buhari to include the project in Sukuk Fund so that it can be ready for commissioning during the lifespan of the present administration.
According to him, about N45 billion is needed to complete the road project.
The NDDC was established in 2000 to develop the oil-rich Niger Delta region, following agitations from the people of the region.
NB: Additional report from Daily Trust