Obaseki says Niger Delta lost $1.35bn to oil theft in first quarter 2019, Edo councils get N3.069bn allocation in October, as IGR rises by 8.2%  

By Justina Gabriel

The Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has flayed the incessant cases of oil theft in the Niger Delta, bemoaning the loss of about 22 million barrels of crude oil in the first quarter of 2019, estimated at $1.35 billion. The governor disclosed this when he received a delegation of National Executive Committee of the Pan Niger-Delta Forum (PANDEF), who were in the Government House, Benin City, on a courtesy visit. Obaseki wondered how in spite of militarisation in the Niger Delta Region, such huge volume of crude oil could be stolen to the detriment of the development of the area and country.

He said, “What is really worrisome for me, having chaired the NEC committee on stolen crude oil is the extent of militarisation in our region. About 22 million barrels of crude oil cannot be accounted for in the first half of this year with an estimated cost of almost $1.35 billion, which is going to non-state actors that are operating in the region.” He said some people claim to have spent a lot of money in the last decade to develop the region but there is no evidence on the ground to show for it, noting, “There is need to use the region’s assets for economic growth to prevent people of the Niger-Delta from being shortchanged and its resources used as slush funds.

“Edo is an integral part of the Niger-Delta, we are so strategically positioned as we are the entry point to the Niger Delta. As a state, we have tried to advance some of the issues in the 16-point agenda presented to President Muhammad Buhari on the 1st of November 2016, by over 100 senior persons of the region in a bid to find peace.” He continued, “The way we utilise the resources we get as a region for the benefit of our people is an issue to be taken seriously, as we have to demonstrate the commitment to develop the region and make life better for our people.” Obaseki called on leaders in the region to be accountable, noting, “Accountability should be the guiding principle. The region has the quality of leaders to achieve development for its people.”

Earlier, PANDEF National Chairman, Retired Air Commodore, Idongesit Nkanga stressed that there is a pending 16-point agenda submitted to President Buhari on 1st November 2016, on issues of infrastructural development and peace in the region. He appealed to the governor to lend his voice to the clamour for fiscal federalism to bring progress to the Niger Delta, while urging politicians to close ranks for the good of the region. Former Inspector General of Police, Dr. Solomon Arase, who is the Edo State chairman of PANDEF, said it was necessary to brief the governor on pending issues affecting the region, which required federal government’s attention. Arase noted that PANDEF was managing perceived injustice to the Niger Delta region in a non-violent manner with the expectation that such would be addressed.

MeanwhileEdo State Joint Account and Allocation Committee (JAAC) has declared N3.069,711,638 as the total allocation accrued to the 18 Local Government Areas (LGAs) in the state from the Federation Account for the month of October and shared in November, 2019.

  Chairman, Oredo Local Government Area, Hon. Jenkins Osunde, disclosed this at the end of the monthly JAAC meeting, presided over by Governor Godwin Obaseki, at Government House, in Benin City, the Edo State capital. He said that the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) for the month of October stood at N205,410,727.06k as against N189,777,584.06k, which was recorded for September, indicating an 8.2 per cent increase in IGR.

Osunde added that the total sum for salaries for teachers and non-teachers under the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) is N901,885,593.38k while the Local Government Pension Fund contribution stood at N439, 860,551. “Primary school teachers’ salaries gulped N859,769,434.93k and non-teachers’ salaries stood at N42, 116,158.45k. Subvention to Local Education Authority is N8,069,002.36k,” he said. He further explained that N100 million was set aside for payment of pension arrears, noting, “Net allocation to LGAs stood at N1,375,754,998.63k while the total amount transferred to LGAs is N1, 360,460,440,44k. He also noted that total deduction from the LGAs is N1,693,956,639.54k while funds for Ward Development Committees gulped N10 million, adding that the council chairmen have reaffirmed their support for Governor Godwin Obaseki’s second term bid.

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