$14 Billion ‘ill-spent’ on development projects in Nigeria’s oil region
Nigeria has failed to adequately implement and deliver thousands of projects—funded with $14 billion—to help the social, economic, and infrastructure development of the oil-rich but impoverished Niger Delta region, Nigeria’s Attorney General Abubakar Malami has said.
Between 2001 and 2019, the government agency Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) was tasked to implement projects that would “offer a lasting solution to the socio-economic difficulties of the Niger Delta Region and to facilitate the rapid and sustainable development of the Niger Delta into a region that is economically prosperous, socially stable, ecologically regenerative and politically peaceful.”
The Niger Delta is the heart of Nigeria’s oil industry, producing all of the onshore crude oil that Africa’s top producer and exporter pumps. Yet, most of the people living there are very poor, and some resort to oil theft, which frequently results in pipeline ruptures, leaks, and force majeure on crude production and exports.
Despite the fact that $14 billion (6 trillion Nigerian naira) was allocated to NDDC over two decades, as many as 13,777 projects to improve the living conditions for people in the Niger Delta were “substantially compromised,” Malami said, presenting a forensic audit of NDDC.
“The Federal Government is particularly concerned with the colossal loss occasioned by uncompleted and unverified development projects in the Niger Delta Region, in spite of the huge resources made available to uplift the living standard of the citizens,” the attorney general said, as carried by Reuters.
In addition, NDDC had as many as 362 bank accounts, and there was no proper reconciliation of accounts, the forensic audit found.
The findings could result in “initiation of criminal investigations, prosecution, recovery of funds not properly utilized for the public purposes for which they were meant,” Malami said.
Even though oil from the Niger Delta generates much of Nigeria’s state revenues, the country has failed so far to improve the lives of the people living in its oil-rich region.
According to OPEC estimates, the oil and gas industry accounts for about 10 percent of Nigeria’s GDP, while petroleum exports revenue represents a massive 86 percent of total exports revenue.