THE governance of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, must be totally reset to enable it deliver its core mandate of developing the oil-rich Niger Delta.
The current model, which makes it more of a honeypot and patronage centre, renders it a nursery of corruption, confusion and infighting, thus derailing any meaningful attempt towards turning the developmental deficits of the region around.
Under the current model, members of the Board of Directors are drawn from the oil-producing Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Delta, Bayelsa, Abia, Imo, Ondo, Cross River and Edo states.
Chairman of the Board, Managing Director and Heads of the “juiciest” directorates are typically representatives of the four “oil majors” (Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Delta and Bayelsa). The North is also given a bite of the “cake”. Representatives of the three geopolitical zones are curiously part of the setup.
With this model, everyone is primarily focused on taking as much as they can from the system, provided they carry along the many “stakeholders” such as the oil-producing communities, youths, elders, civil society groups, militants and others who believe they are eminently entitled to freeload from the system.
While this model stuffs the personal pockets of these “stakeholders” with access to the leadership of the commission, the grassroots and the very idea of development lose out.
In spite of trillions of naira that have been budgeted for the commission since 2001 when former President Olusegun Obasanjo inaugurated it as a means of dousing disruptions in our oil industry, thousands of projects have been abandoned.
Many contractors simply collect their fees and walk away. Some contracts are awarded many times over. Students on NDDC scholarships abroad are abandoned.
As long as this model remains the ruling paradigm of the NDDC, nothing will change.
The forensic audit ordered by President Muhammadu Buhari may achieve very little because almost everybody within the ruling circles has soiled their fingers. Even the Presidency appears confused. In the past 18 months, it appointed the Board and two heads of the Interim Management Committees and worsened the chaos.
It is time to reset the NDDC into a business model. The core oil-producing states can continue to nominate members of the Board of Directors who will function just like any company board.
The Managing Director should be appointed by the President subject to approval by the Senate. The management team should run the developmental affairs of the Commission in a corporately transparent and accountable manner.
But, will the so-called elders, youths, militants and political sharks allow a system that delivers the goods without putting the money in their pockets work? We have to choose between development and sharing the money.