NDDC isolated from State govt’s – Ayade
By Ike Uchechukwu – Calabar
Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio has asserted that President Buhari was not in any way playing politics with the development of the Niger Delta region of the country.
He added that the forensic audit ordered by the president was a sign of courage on the part of the president and emphasized that the government was committed to righting the wrongs in the region.
Senator Akpabio made the assertion at the Executive Council Chambers of the Governor’s office on Friday in Calabar when he paid a courtesy visit on the Cross River State governor, Prof. Ben Ayade, as part of the ministry’s tour of projects in the state.
His, words: “The essence of the Ministry’s visit to the state is to look at ongoing projects and see where the ministry can intervene alongside the NDDC so as to touch the lives of the people besides fast-tracking development in the region.
“President Muhammadu Buhari is not playing politics with the development of the region and this is why projects are taken to the grassroots.
“In line with this, the ministry is committed to developing the region and intervening in areas that touch people’s lives”, he said.
He listed some of the projects ongoing in the state to include, Atimbo-Akpabuyo road, Skill Training Institute at Akpabuyo, 40 units of housing units at Bakassi complete with internal roads and a fantastic water project, Calabar urban road projects, Akim I road project, Ogoja road projects, Ogoja water projects amongst others.
Others are oil Palm Processing plants at Nko in Yakurr as well as an on-going procurement process for the East-West Road which will terminate in Calabar amongst others.
On the forensic audit, he said the NDDC has been a cesspool of corruption over the years and everyone knows it including the workers, contractors, and the agency deviated from its original mandate of ameliorating the sufferings of the people over the years.
Giving some details of corruption in the agency, he said between 2017-2019 468 billion was expended on emergency jobs particularly road projects that did not have gutters, 4.3 billion cash grants given to NGOs and 90% of which were not registered and wondered how they opened accounts with banks.
He assured the people of the state that the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs will collaborate with the state particularly in the area of agriculture to ensure that the Niger Delta becomes the hub for the production of rice in the West African region.
On his part, Prof. Ben Ayade commended the Ministry of Niger Delta for its intervention projects in the state and called for more partnerships between the NDDC and governors in the region.
He said the NDDC spends billions of naira on amnesty but not a single Cross Riverian is part of it despite the fact that militants surrendered their arms and urged the Minister to reverse the fortune of the state in the agency.
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He said he does not know about the ongoing projects in the state and as a governor, he could deny the NDDC access to his state but urged the minister to block off everything that separates the NDDC from the states.
“Cross River State is the only state in the Niger Delta whose people have dropped guns the Bakassi Strike Force yet not admitted into the amnesty and NDDC spends billions on the amnesty programme and there is no Cross Riverian.
“I am shocked when I hear you reel out all the programmes, activities and projects ongoing in Cross River State and as governor, I don’t know about them, I am not aware of these projects. Its to tell you how isolated the NDDC is from the state governments.
“These projects are not known to us and in other words I as governor under the provisions of the constitution to deny the ministry access to my state, but because you understand the sociology of power.
“so you must create a new lacuna that will block off every single thing that isolates the ministry from the states,” Ayade said.
He called on the Ministry to partner with the State to drive the rice revolution which is ongoing in the state so as to improve a lot of youths in the region.