By Bashir Adefaka
Until the report of Forensic Audit of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) is ready, the untold stories of how the Niger Delta region was drawn back from reaching its desired goal, set by the larger Nigerian society, will not stop to unfold.
The death in active service on Thursday June 25, 2020 of Ondo State Commissioner for Health and Chairman Inter-Ministerial Committee on COVID-19 in the state, Dr. Abdul-Wahab Oluropo Adegbenro, called to mind again the Niger Delta question.
This is when The DEFENDER reported an ongoing medical village project that the Ondo State government was building, aiming to make the South West’s core member state of the Niger Delta, a medical tourist destination of choice, diverting medical tourism to Ondo as against overseas medical trips.
While this project is strictly an Ondo State Government project, it must be stated clearly the relevance of it in the discourse of the development of the Niger Delta, where an individual state is creative enough to do right by its people to pull away from backwardness akin to the region.
The Niger Delta region has been plunged into decay by those whose only understanding of the NDDC is no more than drainpipes for self political and economic project.
As a result of that, even the expatriates, whose oil and gas industry could have created a level of desired development, had been frustrated by militancy, deliberately created ‘garrison command’ of the spoilers, who destroy oil installations at will.
Many of the foreign partners now either operate skeletally or have fled the region. For example, Shell Oil and Gas.
It is little wonder that for a long time to come in the history of Nigeria’s administration of Niger Delta, President Muhammadu Buhari will always be easily adored as the leader, whose tenure brought about the clean up programme that brought to the fore, the suffering of the people of Niger Delta. It became known that the would-have-been source of development for the entire region became a curse for the ordinary people of Niger Delta.
That clean up process that started with the sack of the NDDC management and its replacement with the Interim Management Committee (IMC), no doubt, has continued to bring the ray of hope, in the feeling of Nigerians both within and outside of the region, of a Better Life to come.
The paradigm shift that makes that possible is well seated in the courage and bravery deployed by those charged with the responsibility to do the job without looking back.
The Acting Managing Director of the NDDC, Professor Pondei and Dr. Cairo Ojougboh, undaunted as the President who appointed them and the Minister who supervises then, are not leaving any stone unturned in the clean up exercise being done with the presidential assignment relating to the Forensic Audit.
It is now a general belief, the way things have gone, that the Forensic Audit will end decades of decay and sufferings afflicted on the people of Niger Delta by the corruption and failure of managers and supervisors of the past.
Today, the tantrums of same destroyers are now at their loudest because thieves have no shame and greed is like opium.
In recent history, they have spent massively from their loot, aiming to dominate the traditional, digital and social media with falsehood and misrepresentations of the reality on ground with intent to demonising and demolishing the IMC.
The government of Muhammadu Buhari is determined to stand by the Niger Delta’s impoverished innocent people against those Niger Deltans who underdeveloped the Niger Delta.
The committed President Nigeria has, who is standing firmly in ensuring that the tears of Niger Deltans will not be in vain, is the hope of making the region better for real.
Who else, but Buhari could have had the liver to stop or expose the hypocrisy of some Niger Delta raiders, who are the destroyers of Niger Delta. Same looters insist on being the judge in their own case, as seen in how their representatives at the National Assembly insist on naming appointees to probe their dastardly acts against the people of Niger Delta. They insisted that they must be the ones to probe a decay they initiated and implemented.
The Federal government has stood its ground that it has the constitutional responsibility to appoint and protect the people of Niger Delta. It has exercised such powers with the Forensic Audit ordered by Mr. President.
“We have also faced pressure from some members of the National Assembly to pay for 132 jobs which have no proof of execution. We have refused to pay out N6.4 billion for those jobs. We believe that an IMC set up as a cleansing structure cannot become part of the old story of rot,” Professor Pondei,
Acting MD, IMC of NDDC, said in one of his recent submissions.
According to Lauretta Onochie, Social Media Aide to the President, “These are classical cases of how the Niger Delta underdeveloped the Niger Delta. How can anyone with a conscience demand payment for no job done. It’s nothing but stealing.”
How on earth can people, Niger Deltans, pressure the IMC to pay for 132 jobs with no evidence of execution! This is one of the problems.
Some members of Niger Delta region just see the NDDC as their personal Central Bank, nothing more, nothing less and when their continued access is blocked, they resort to tantrums.
Good to know, however, that Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has described the Forensic Audit ordered by President Muhammadu Buhari as a solution to the years of underdevelopment in the oil rich region. Yes. That will surely be, and the people can no longer wait to see the report of the Audit finally unveiled. They too, see it as their last hope for freedom and development in the region.