No N29bn provision to fight militancy in 2017 budget, says Budget Ministry

The Ministry of Budget and National Planning has described as erroneous a story in the Monday, January 2, 2017 edition of Thisday newspaper, with the headline, ‘PANDEF Expresses Displeasure over N29 billion Budgeted to Fight Militancy in 2017’.

Akpandem James, Media Adviser to the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, said the story, which quoted a statement reportedly issued Saturday night and signed by a member of the Central Working Committee of the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), Dr. Alfred Mulade, gave the impression that the Federal Government has earmarked the sum of N29 billion in the 2017 budget, specifically to fight militancy in the Niger Delta.

Apkandem said: “The relevant section of Dr. Mulade’s purported statement did not even indicate that the speculated provision was contained in the 2017 Budget. Instead, it stated, ‘To make matters worse, the government is reported to have earmarked a whooping N29 billion of oil revenue to fight militancy in the Niger Delta region’.

“It must be clearly stated that there is no such provision in the 2017 Budget Proposals presented by the President, so we have absolutely no idea where this story is coming from.

Indeed, the President has consistently and categorically stated that the focus of his administration in 2017 will be to ‘continue to pursue peace initiatives in the Niger Delta’ through dialogue and engagement. It is for this reason that, amongst other projects earmarked for the Niger Delta, the sum of N65 billion has been provided in the 2017 Budget proposals for the re-integration of transformed ex-militants under the Presidential Amnesty Programme.

•Akpandem James.

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