Buhari Increases Amnesty Programme Budget From N20bn To N65bn
President Muhammadu Buhari has tripled funding for the Niger Delta Amnesty Programme as a way of reaching out to militants who have been bombing oil installations in the region.
The amnesty programme, whose funding was slashed to N20 billion in 2016 has been increased to N65 billion in the 2017 budget.
There have been renewed attacks on oil installations spearheaded by the Niger Delta Avengers and other militant groups that emerged since Buhari took over power from Goodluck Jonathan who comes from the region.
The continued vandalization of oil facilities has affected oil production from 2:2 million barrels per day when Buhari assumed office in May 2015 to about 1:5 million barrels a day presently.
The Nigerian armed forces launched operation “Crocodile Smile” to curb militant activities in the Niger Delta but Buhari has repeatedly maintained that he would explore dialogue in resolving the crisis in the Niger Delta rather than declaring war on the militants.
He recently hosted Niger Delta leaders to the Presidential Villa, Abuja to explore ways of finding solutions to the incessant attacks on oil facilities.
Speaking at the presentation of 2017 budget to the joint session of the National Assembly on Wednesday, Buhari said he was determined to get production back to at least 2.2 million barrels per day.
He said his government would continue to engage the communities in the Niger Delta to ensure that there is minimum disruption to oil production.
He called on the national assembly, state and local governments, traditional rulers, civil society organisations and oil companies to do their part in this engagement.
He said that, “We must all come together to ensure peace reigns in the Niger Delta.”
The president pointed out the need to diversify the economy but noted that oil revenue is needed to revive other sectors of the economy.
He said that, “First we clearly understand the paradox that to diversify from oil we need oil revenues. You may recall that oil itself was exploited by investment from agricultural surpluses. We will now use oil revenues to revive our agriculture and industries.”
Buhari added that his government would continue its ongoing reforms to enhance the efficiency of the management of our oil and gas resources.
He disclosed that “From January 2017, the Federal Government will no longer make provision for Joint Venture cash-calls. Going forward, all Joint Venture operations shall be subjected to a new funding mechanism, which will allow for Cost Recovery.
“This new funding arrangement is expected to boost exploration and production activities, with resultant net positive impact on government revenues which can be allocated to infrastructure, agriculture, solid minerals and manufacturing sectors.”
Buhari, however, said the implementation of the 2016 Budget was hampered by the combination of relatively low oil prices in the first quarter of 2016, and disruptions in crude oil production which led to significant shortfalls in projected revenue, noting that this contributed to the economic slow-down that negatively affected revenue collections by the Federal Inland Revenue Service and the Nigerian Customs Service.
The 2017 Budget is based on a benchmark crude oil price of US$42.5 per barrel, an oil production estimate of 2.2 million barrels per day, and an average exchange rate of N305 to the US dollar.
Oil is expected to contribute N1.985 trillion out of the projected aggregate federal government revenue of N4.94 trillion.
The total proposed budget for 2017 is N7.298 trillion.