MEND Claims Attack On Oil Facility In Bayelsa

MENDAs Jonathan Signs 2012 Budget

Hints Of Sack Of Heads Of Agencies

Who Lobby For Budget Increase

JUST as President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday signed this year’s appropriation bill into law at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, the main sources of the revenue upon which the budget is hinged may be threatened by renewed attacks on oil facilities by some ex-militants not covered in the Federal Government amnesty programme, as the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) yesterday claimed to have attacked a crude oil pipeline owned by Italian oil and gas company, Eni.

During the signing ceremony, the President announced that all heads of federal government parastatals, who lobbied for increase of their agencies budget for this year’s, will be relieved of their appointments.

Such heads of the agencies, President Jonathan said, are not only flouting his directives but are distorting the nation’s budget process.

The alleged attack by MEND is coming a few days after the Joint Military Task Force, code named Operation Pulo Shield, ordered its operatives guiding oil installations and waterways to be on the alert, following the threat by some ex-militants, under the aegis of Third Phase ex-militants, to launch a vicious attack on some formations and oil installations in the Niger Delta region.

The group, which claimed to have the membership of thousands of youths under the Third Phase Amnesty and divided into factions and have been having a running battle with the Kingsley Kuku Amnesty Implementation Committee, issued a statement warning of a series of attacks against oil companies in the region.

The group warned President Goodluck Jonathan and handed him a seven-day ultimatum, that should the Federal Government fail to come up with a programme of action to ensure that they are also paid, like other ex-militants who had dropped their arms, they would have no option than to return to the creeks and endanger the oil industry in the country.

In a statement issued on-line yesterday by MEND, its spokesperson, Gbomo Jomo said the attack was carried out yesterday at Clough Creek in Southern Ijaw Council of Bayelsa State.

According to the group: “At 0210, fighters of MEND attacked and destroyed one wellhead and one manifold on trunk lines belonging to Agip. … More attacks to follow.”

When contacted, JTF spokesman, Lt. Col. Onyema Nwachukwu, said: “Nothing as such has been reported, either by our men or Agip Company.”

According to Nwachukwu, who assumed the position on Wednesday: “The oil company is yet to report any attack, but we will contact our men along the creeks and waterways to verify the claims.”

The N4.697 trillion budget was based on a benchmark oil price of US$72 per barrel.

It consists of a total capital expenditure of N1.34 trillion and recurrent expenditure amounting to N3.357 trillion, but it excludes the appropriation of N180 billion for programmes and projects encapsulated under the SURE-Progamme (Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme).

The President, who signed the budget in the Brown Room in his office, pleaded with the National Assembly to send away any heads of federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), who come to lobby them for increase in their budgetary provisions.

According to him: “I will continue to plead with National Assembly that if there are heads of parastatals that come to you to lobby, drive them away.

“This year, we clearly frowned at it and I am going to use some heads of parastatals as example. This is because I got security report that some came to lobby for their budgets to be increased. I will ask them to leave because we cannot run a country without planning.

“We cannot run a budget that is not based on planning. These figures don’t just come from the blues. People sat down and compute and see how it fits into fiscal responsibility and other issues.

“So, we will not allow a situation where one person because of personal interest will distort the budget of a nation.”

Saying that the budget of “fiscal consolidation, inclusive economic growth and job creation” is “a stepping stone in our medium-term developmental plan,” the President acknowledged the efforts of the leadership of the Senate and the House of Representatives, the various Committees of the National Assembly, the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and the Budget Office in ensuring the budget is formulated, presented, passed and signed by him.

On December 13, last year, the President presented the budget proposal with a total expenditure of N4.749 trillion based on a benchmark oil price of US$70 per barrel and the full deregulation of the downstream petroleum sector.

However, with the partial subsidy removal at N97 per litre of petrol, the budget was reviewed to make provision amounting to N888 billion.

On March 15, the National Assembly passed a budget of N4.697 trillion, based on a benchmark of US$72 per barrel of oil, with capital expenditure of N1.34 trillion and recurrent expenditure amounting to N3.357 trillion.

Based on a revenue forecast is N3.561 trillion, the capital expenditure of N1.34 trillion is 28.5 per cent of the aggregate expenditure. It also contains a non-debt recurrent expenditure of N2.425 trillion, which is 52 per cent and statutory transfers of N372.59 billion.

The President stated that “based on the above and in line with government’s medium-term strategy, the share of the recurrent spending in aggregate expenditure has declined from 74.4 per cent in 2011 to 71.5 per cent in 2012. The deficit is 2.85 per cent of GDP, which is in line with the provisions of the Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007, which pegs this at three per cent of GDP.

“One of the main goals of this administration is to complete and exit the large stock of ongoing projects and programmes.

“Thus, the budget is focused on completing viable ongoing projects, in accordance with the Transformation Agenda, which will quickly deliver tangible and significant added value to Nigerians.

“Furthermore, our approach to funding the development of critical infrastructure in Nigeria is to involve the private sector, which has the capital and implementation capacity to successfully deliver specific infrastructure projects. ”

“The goal of achieving positive macroeconomic stability is no end in itself. The robust growth experienced in recent years needs to be translated into tangible and concrete improvement in the living standards of our people.”

In this respect, he added: “Government is focused on investments in priority sectors in order to sustain economic growth and create jobs.

“The 2012 Budget is geared toward supporting economic growth and employment creation.”


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