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Projects: Benin group petitions Reps Speaker over neglect of Edo South by Niger Delta Minister

The Benin National Congress (BNC) has lamented the unfair exclusion of the Edo South Senatorial district by the Minister for Niger Delta affairs, with respect to allocation of projects/amenities.

In a petition dated 7th February and addressed to the Speaker, House of Representatives, Tajudeen Abbas, the group decried the exclusion of the senatorial district from the projects to be carried out under the 2024 budget.

The petition reads: “In our letter of January 24, 2024, to The Chairman, BRACED Commission Council, Governor Godwin Nogheghase Obaseki, Edo State Governor’s Office, Government House, Benin City we raised the complaint with respect to the undeserving, unfair and macroscopically obvious discrimination leading to the exclusion of Edo South Senatorial District from the allocation/siting of projects in this year’s Budget of the Ministry of the Niger-Delta.

“We had In our letter of December 21, 2023 which was addressed to HRM, Omo N’Oba
N’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, Ewuare II CFR, the Oba Of Benin, expressed our surprise about
the lopsided allocation by the Ministry of the Niger-Delta in its distribution of projects
to be executed under the 2024 Budget, when all the 5 major projects under his Ministry
were allocated/sited exclusively in his Edo North to the exclusion of other parts of the
Niger-Delta Communities, especially Edo South Senatorial District – being the area with
oil and gas production basin of the Niger-Delta

“In our assumption that it was a mistake, we didn’t believe that it could have been an
intentional oversight, and we therefore sought to draw the attention of the Ministry and the Honourable Minister to this lacuna in its 2024 Budget projects distribution. The document also highlighted the major projects included in the Federal Government’s proposed 2024 National budget favouring Edo North For instance, N1.50b is allocated to the construction of 45km Okpella North, Ibie – Agenobode Road, Phase 1 in Edo State.

The Federal government also allocated N800m for the construction of classrooms in the 9 Niger Delta States (global); design and construction of Ekperi Osomegbe Road, amounting to N545m. Other projects to be executed in Northern Edo State are the construction of Ihievhe – Ihievhe Ogbe Road and the N500m construction of Iyukwu – Atte Road in Akoko Edo, LGA.

In giving credence to the exclusion of Edo South Senatorial District, Senator Oyofo felicitated with the Honourable Minister for these projects given to his area, (Edo North Senatorial District) but the same cannot be said of Edo South Senatorial District that has the absolute population majority and land mass of the State.

We are dismayed to read that the Honourable Minister probably did this on purpose stemming from the justifications he had sought to give for concentrating all major projects within his constituency, which is not an oil and gas producing area of Edo State, knowing well that Edo State is Niger-Delta, because Edo South sits on the bight of Benin and other Niger Estuaries such as Gelegele, and Edo South Senatorial District is the oil and gas producing District of Edo State.

What further other parameters could have excluded Edo South Senatorial District from qualifying for any of the Ministry of the Niger-Delta projects, for which the Honourable Minister so blatantly excluded us?

In a publication in This Nigeria newpapers

Honourable Minister referring to our letter above, opined: “reacting to the development, a reliable source said the minister has noted that he has not made any mistake, claiming that he did it because all the previous ministers who headed the ministry started projects from their immediate constituencies.“

The source also said that the minister maintained that the likes of the Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, when he was the Minister, also did the same”. “According to the source, “I called the Minister,

Dr Abubakar Momoh, and he confirmed that he sited those projects in Etsako, in Edo North, because he needed to start from his immediate community.”

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While reacting to the letter on the same matter from Edo State chapter of the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), the Honourable Minister said interlia: Edo State PANDEF Claims Debunked: A Detailed Look At Niger Delta Ministry’ s 2024 Budget is essential to address the concerns raised by Elder Asemota and his group, who seem to champion a Benin agenda to the perceived detriment of other senatorial districts in Edo State.”

“Firstly, we want to emphasize the critical distinction between the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and the Niger Delta Development Ministry. The NDDC focuses on oil-producing areas, whereas the Ministry encompasses the entire region, aiming to address comprehensive developmental needs.” “However, the danger lies in prioritizing a narrow Benin agenda over the overarching development of Edo State. This approach not only risks undermining principles of fairness and equity but also fosters division among senatorial districts” “We strongly urge Elder Asemota to conduct a thorough inquiry into the actions and initiatives executed by both the State Government and the Edo Representative in the NDDC. Notably, these representatives not only originate from Benin but are also situated in Benin. The inquiry should particularly center on their utilization of the direct derivation funds earmarked for the development of the oil-producing community in Edo State”.

”Additionally, the ministry’s budget reflects the allocation of almost three billion naira to constituency projects by some members of the National Assembly representing Edo North.” “This is a key factor contributing to the perceived concentration. If Representatives from Benin had pursued a similar course of action, they would have witnessed a substantial increase in projects within the Benin area, supplementing the existing developments.”

His numerous reasons include that the Distinguished Senate President, H.E. Senator Godswill Akpabio, GCON acted similarly when he was Minister of Niger-Delta. That the NASS Members from his Edo North constituency area contributed their Constituency Projects whereas those from other senatorial districts, and in particular Edo South didn’t and where either stingy or not wise enough to contribute theirs to his Ministry. That we are being parochial tribalistic and dispendious in the use of the resources allocated to Edo State under the Oil and Gas Producing Areas contributions. We are in receipt of a news media publication by the Honourable Minister in furtherance of his affront on the psyche of Edo South people.

We humbly request that the Budget of the Ministry of the Niger-Delta be revisited to  enable the needful corrections I’m the allocation of projects to include Edo South Senatorial District being the largest by land mass, the largest by population, the only District in Edo State that is oil and gas producing with its well known environmental
degradation to stave off the anger over this unmerited deprivation.”



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