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By Frank Ikpefan,
FIFTY oil firms operating in the Niger Delta region are owing the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) N1.2 trillion in form of unpaid dues to the Commission.
The firm responsible for the collection of the unremitted statutory allocation for NDDC, Paris Trust Limited, said it has served the oil firms letters to that effect since July 26, 2019
Its Principal Partner, Timothy Bagwams, said since 2015, majority of the firms have failed to remit the statutory three per cent of their annual budget to the Commission, saying the failure to make the payments, is affecting the development of the region.
In a statement on Wednesday in Abuja, Bagwams, said the developmental activities of the Commission are funded by monies paid by oil firms in the region, pointing out that the failure by some of these firms to pay their dues meant that the Commission can only achieve little in addressing the developmental needs of the Niger Delta region.
He said the firm has been authorised by the NDDC to serve letters to the defaulting firms to remit their dues to the Commission.
Some of the firms include Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), National Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG), Chevron, Shell and Agip.
Others are African Petroleum, Pan Ocean oil, Petro Bas, Seplat, Moni Pulo Petroleum Development, South Atlantic Petroleum and Zenon, Slumberger and First Exploration, Dubri Oil Company Limited among others.
In its reaction, the Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division of NNPC, Mr Ndu Ughamadu, confirmed that the Corporation is indeed owing NDDC. He however, stated that NNPC has started repaying the debts.
He said: “There is nothing wrong in being indebted to someone or an organisation. We are indebted to NDDC, but we reached an agreement with them (NDDC) on repayment and we have started the repayment few months ago.”
Bagwams said the NDDC has asked the Federal Government and all the oil and gas firms operating in the region to fulfil their financial statutory obligations to the Commission by remitting all their outstanding remittances to its coffers.
Bagwams said the Commission has written to the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and Federal Ministry of Finance requesting for the remittance of the cash.
Section 14(2)(b) of the NDDC Act, 2014 says three per cent of the total annual budget of any oil producing company operating on shore and off shore, in the Niger-Delta area; including gas-processing companies shall be paid and credited to the fund established by the NDDC for the defrayal of all expenditure.
He said: “But as I speak with you the companies are owing NDDC more than N1.2 trillion, and this is why the Commission is achieving little in addressing the developmental needs of the region.
“Since 2015, the Federal Government has not been remitting its statutory 15 percent of the total monthly statutory allocations due to member states of the Commission from the Federation Account as well as the 50 per cent of monies due to member states of the Commission from the Ecological Fund.
“The 15 percent, according to the provisions of Section 14(2) (a) and (c) of the Niger Delta Development Commission (Establishment, ETC) Act, 2014 represents the contribution of the Federal Government to the Commission.”
Source; The Nation Newspaper