News

July 10, 2024

Niger Delta stakeholders beg Tinubu to release over N2trn owed NDDC

Tinubu

…Why NDDC Act must be reviewed, PANDEF

…Forum to chart course for Niger Delta Dev, Hope Uzodinma

By Daniel Abia

Critical stakeholders in the Niger Delta region including the Pan Niger Delta Forum PANDEF, Ijaw National Congress, INC, the Ijaw Youths Council, IYC, among others have called on President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to display his genuine intentions in the development of the oil rich region through adequate funding of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC. 

The interest groups on Wednesday at the ongoing Niger Delta Stakeholders Summit 2024 in Port Harcourt organized by the Commission said the call for proper funding of the NDDC was necessary to facilitate the implementation of various projects embarked upon by the current 7th board.

The summit drew participants from the founding fathers of the OMPADEC, Royal fathers, women groups, youths and the Presidential Amnesty Coordinator among others in attendance.

While decrying the problem of under-funding of the interventionist agency, the stakeholders said even if it meant borrowing funds for the NDDC, the federal government should go ahead and borrow considering that the Nigerian government is prone to borrowing money to fund programmes and projects.

In his solidarity message, the National Chairman of PANDEF, Sen. Ibok  Essien, pointed out that the master plan designed for the region cannot be well implemented if the commission is not properly funded. “The master plan designed for the region cannot be implemented if the commission is not well funded”.

“We are borrowing money to do other things, so, even if it means that we have to borrow to enable NDDC achieve its core mandates, we should do so. The single treasury account should not apply to NDDC, it impedes development”, he said.

Senator Ibok insisted that the commission should be removed from the single treasurer account, STA, stating that such system of operation works against development.

The INC representative, Ezonebi Oyakemeagbegha and IYC President, Jonathan Lokpobiri, urged Government to give priority attention to the fixing of the deplorable East-West road.

Lokpobiri said, the region has been calm and supportive to the Bola Tinubu government urging that the People’s peaceful disposition should not be taken for granted by continuous negligence of the key interest of the people of the region.

Also, one of the founding fathers of NDDC, Professor Jasper Jumbo, urged President Bola Tinubu to remit all outstanding funds meant for the Commission, sufficiently empower NDDC to enable it accomplish its mandate and move  the people away from underdevelopment and poverty.

“There is an urgent need to pay three percent vat to NDDC so that it can be in position to develop legacy projects that will improve lives of the Niger Delta people. As fathers of the region, we are pleading that government should give top attention to the current administration of NDDC which is passionate about changing the narratives” Jumbo stated.

“This Commission is being owed more than N2trillion, the last time we checked. I am sure that money has not been paid. We are begging Mr. President to ensure that the money is released to this board to continue the good job of executing key projects in the region”, he said.

Earlier, the Chairman of the occasion and Governor of Imo State, Sen. Hope Uzodimma described the stakeholders’ summit as critical to the growth of the region.

Represented by the Deputy Governor, Chinyere Akimaru, Uzodimma said, “such forum was necessary to chart a way towards sustainable growth to tackle the poverty and environmental degradation that bedevils the region”. He therefore called for team work to create a brighter future for the region.

In his opening remarks, Chairman Governing Board of NDDC, Mr Chiedu Ebie, said the summit was a testament to the Commission’s commitment to the President’s renewed hope vision and the Minister’s charge to the commission.

“Your presence here today symbolizes our united effort to transform the Niger Delta. We are dedicated to setting the region on a path of sustainability and growth. By fostering comprehensive engagement, we will accurately identify key issues and craft solutions that reflect the true needs and realities of the region’s people”, he said.

Presenting the state of the Niger Delta Region, the Managing Director NDDC, Dr. Samuel Ogbuku said the present administration has focused on infrastructure, education, economic empowerment, healthcare and social welfare and has also laid groundwork for a brighter future, while its alignment with the SDGs demonstrates a commitment to sustainable and inclusive development.

Ogbuku listed key objectives of the summit to include; developing strategies for economic growth, translating the renewed hope agenda and articulating a roadmap for sustainable development.

On his part, the National Security Adviser, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, who spoke at the Technical Session of the Summit, described the theme of the Summit, “Renewed Hope for Sustainable Development in the Niger Delta’ as very apt.

Ribadu noted that his office was consulting widely, collecting, and building a body of knowledge, information and data that will help the President prescribe policy, and create laws that will address the challenges of the region in a more holistic and coordinated way.

The NSA said, key focus is addressing the security and conflict situation in the Niger Delta so as to enhance sustainable development.

“Niger Delta is the world’s tenth largest and Africa’s largest deltaic ecosystem. It is ecologically highly diverse, complex, sensitive, and logistically challenging. Your people have braved, survived, and made their home out of this ecosystem”.

“The oil and gas business and its negative externalities places a lot of pressure on your physical and social ecosystem and the people’s livelihood”.

“This has introduced an additional layer to the nature and context for current conflict dynamics, as pollution to air, water, vegetation, and land has implication for health, livelihoods, ecosystem sustainability and future survival, with demonstrable consequence for National Security. The President hopes to make policies for sustainable development that address the implication of environmental issues to security as a central theme”. Ribadu stated.

Some areas to address in the technical session include; economic development, human capital and social development, infrastructure development, environmental development, security, law and order, governance and institutions/implementation etc.

Also speaking, Chief Dressman Darlinton, Ag. National President of the Niger Delta Indigenous Contractors Association, said the summit presented a significant opportunity for to come together as stakeholders in the development of the Niger Delta region.

“We are committed to fostering collaboration, dialogue, and progress that will benefit the people and the environment of the Niger Delta. As indigenous contractors, we understand the importance of sustainable development and the need for inclusive participation in shaping the future of our region. We are dedicated to contributing our expertise, insights, and resources towards the advancement of the Niger Delta.

“We believe that through open and constructive dialogue, we can address the challenges facing the region and work towards actionable solutions that will have a lasting and positive impact. Our collective efforts and commitment to excellence will be instrumental in driving progress and prosperity in the Niger Delta.

“We express our gratitude to the MD/CEO, Chief Samuel Ogbuku, and the entire Board and management of  NDDC for putting thus submit together, we equally commend all participants, and supporters of the Niger Delta Stakeholders Summit for their unwavering dedication to the betterment of our region. Together, we can create a brighter future for the Niger Delta and its people”, he said.