Delta Governor and Chairman of South-South Governors’ Forum, Sen. (Dr) Ifeanyi Okowa, on Thursday called on President Muhammadu Buhari to reconstitute the board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) without further delay.
Speaking when he led his Akwa-Ibom counterpart, Mr Udom Emmanuel, to inaugurate roads, bridge and school projects built by his administration in Agbarho and Oleh, Okowa said it was great injustice for the Federal Government to continue to run the NDDC without a constituted board.
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He stated that Niger Delta states were being taken for a ride with the running of the Commission without conforming to the laws establishing it.
He said that the continued agitation from stakeholders for the reconstitution of the board was germane because the region was being short-changed.
“I believe that the Governors of the South-South have spoken and we are embarrassed that after several months, the government has been unable to reconstitute the board of the NDDC.
“We believe that what is going on at the moment is not the best for our region and it’s not the best for the oil-producing states.
“In the first instance, the sole administratorship is not known to law and the board has the full representation of the people and they are able to speak for their people to ensure that there is fairness, justice and equity in terms of amenities and facilities.
“I believe also that the earlier the board is inaugurated, the better for us because we cannot continue to hide under the fact that we are doing a forensic audit without inaugurating the board because the board is supposed to be forward-looking and not about the past.
“So, allow the new board to come in and when the result of the forensic audit comes, the board will still look at it and know where actions are supposed to be taken.
“We are currently being fooled and we are not happy about it; so, if people agitate, I believe they are doing so in the right direction.
“So, we call on the Presidency to listen to the call of the South-South Governors and other stakeholders from the oil-producing states and quickly inaugurate the board because we are suffering for it.
“I believe that as at today, the funds of the NDDC are not being well managed and I want to believe that they are also not accountable in the way and manner they are running the place,” he said.
He added, “I call on Mr President to quickly look into the inadequacy and ensure that the board of the NDDC is inaugurated as soon as possible.
“We have been expecting the results of the forensic audit and the EFCC can take over and prosecute the fraud-related cases because those ones are not for the board to handle.
“So we cry to Mr President today to quickly inaugurate the board because it’s in the best interest of the nation and in the best interest of the oil-producing states.”
The Governor who had earlier inaugurated the Agbarho Orherhe Road and Bridge in Ughelli North Local Government Area approved the establishment of a secondary school in Orherhe, saying “we must continue to bring education closer to our people”.
On the Oleh and Ozoro communal crisis, Okowa assured that his administration would do justice to the report and recommendations of the Judicial Panel of Enquiry into the clashes.
On his part, Governor Udom, commended Okowa for his outstanding accomplishments in road, education and human capital development, remarking that only governors of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)-controlled states were executing projects across the country.
“If you check Nigeria today, the only people inaugurating projects are PDP states. Let each state bring out what they have done and you will be proud of what PDP governors have done in their respective states.
“I know people will say we receive so much because we are oil-producing states, but have you asked how much money we spend on constructing roads in the South-South?
“This is the real dividend of democracy because what you put on ground for the common man and everybody to enjoy is the real dividend of democracy.
“If people will have time to come and document all we have done in the region they will be amazed with what we have done even with the inflation and foreign exchange challenges.
“And, I believe that the entire community and the Isoko nation will support PDP because we stand for the economic development of the nation,” he said.
The projects inaugurated were Agbarho-Orherhe road, with a bridge in Ughelli North Local Government Area and dualised Emore Road and Emore Grammar School, both in Oleh, Isoko South Local Government Area.