By Jimitota Onoyume
PORT HARCOURTâ€” The Federal Government has been urged to release money owed the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, to enable it discharge its responsibilities effectively in the region. Making the appeal in Port Harcourt , Chairman, Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, South-South and South-East chapters,Â Alhaji Musa Saidu,Â said there was need to encourage the Commission financially so that it would contribute meaningfully towards addressing the challenges of underdevelopment and poverty in the region.
He pleaded with the Federal Government to see the release of the funds owed the Commission as part of its effort at ensuring the success of the amnesty programme in the region.
â€œThis is not the time to play politics. We are talking about millions of people in villages and communities whose lives will be affected one way or another through projects, training, empowerment and other areas within the powers of the NDDC. This is the time to take concrete steps to really address the Niger Delta crisis. It does not make sense that the Federal Government is still withholding the money, despite appeals from majority of Nigerians,â€ Saidu said.
On calls for the Acting President, Goodluck Jonathan, to review the seven-point agenda of the administration, the Arewa leader said he should heed the wise counsel from the Eminent Elders Group, led by former Head of State, Gen Yakubu Gowon, adding that the Niger Delta region should also enjoy his priority list.
â€œBut in reviewing the seven-point agenda, Acting President Goodluck Jonathan should still pay serious attention to the Niger Delta crisis. Since October, 2009 when peace returned to the Niger Delta region, business has picked up. Some of the companies that fled have returned, and some idle hands have been engaged.
â€œAgain, the present peace in the region, more than any other effort at image laundering, stands out in the international community. What we hear in foreign media these days is that there is threat to the post-amnesty programme. That is my concern. The Federal Government should curtail that threat by paying serious attention to the situation.â€
â€œIn the past, we watched how the NDDC was politicized and hijacked by politicians who did not know the simple meaning of development. The new MD/CEO has so far justified why a professional should be on the saddle. He should do more for people of the regionâ€, he added.