Revelations have been coming in about the corrupt practices that have bedeviled the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC). Though corrupt practices are not news in most agencies, what is news is the weight of corruption and those involved.
The NDDC is adjudged to be richer than most states due to the allocation due to it from oil derivative paid by the federal government and oil companies operating in the region. The Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) report put it that about N4 trillion has been received by the commission since it was created by President Olusegun Obasanjo 20 years ago.
The recent altercation between the Minister of Niger Delta, Sen. Godswill Akpabio, and the former MD of NDDC Dr. Joi Nunieh brings up a lot of questions, most especially among interest group that has always asked the question: What has NDDC done with those fat budget over the years? The public is now aware of the rot going on in the agency, thanks to the forensic audit ordered by President Muhammadu Buhari.
If there is any region that should be well developed and can be proud of basic infrastructure in Nigeria it should be states under the Niger Delta region, but the reverse is the case as the region has been subjected to maladministration and systemic corruption by no other person but the sons and daughters of the region being the major perpetrators of this untold hardship against their people.
With a lot of communities suffering decades of neglect, students on scholarship stranded home and abroad, thousands of projects awarded that could not be accounted for, and most importantly the ecosystem that has been damaged due to years of oil exploration and spillage, it is now or never that the agency must wake up to its responsibility and serve the poor people it was created to serve over the last two decades.
President Buhari has ordered a speedy investigation into the activities of the agency, which I hope will unravel some of the hidden controversy rocking the agency and most importantly bring to an end the suffering of the people of this region over the years.
On a final note, NDDC budget preparation should also be revisited. A needs assessment should be carried out in the region in order to give to people projects that will affect their lives and bring to end this daylight robbery.
––Suleiman Akande, Maitama, Abuja