The leaders of the Itsekiri ethnic nationality have called on President Muhammadu Buhari to completely review the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) Act with the aim of returning the agency under the supervision of the presidency.
These leaders of the oil-producing area in Delta State at a press conference yesterday in Lagos lamented that the goals and objectives on which NDDC was founded have been hugely defeated.
They added that without going back to the cradle by thoroughly reviewing the NDDC Act and appointing capable hands from the ‘genuine’ oil-producing communities to man the NDDC, the commission would remain a failed project, while the supposed beneficiaries – Niger Delta people – would continue to suffer under-development in the area.
One of the leaders and human rights activist, Chief Rita Lori-Ogbebor, who spoke on behalf of the people of the region, also called for the scraping of the Ministry of Niger Delta, saying the ministry has failed in its supervisory role in the NDDC saga.
She lamented that NDDC is now a cash cow for politicians.
She accused politicians of siphoning monies meant for the development of the area, adding that with the presidency’s direct supervision of the interventionist agency, all the anomalies in the commission would be curbed.
The veteran journalist further noted that the Master Plan of the agency has not been followed since its inaugural on June 5, 2000, “and that is why till date, there is no evidence that the interventionist agency like NDDC was founded to assuage the suffering of the people of the Niger Delta area.”
While appreciating President Muhammadu Buhari for his interest in the NDDC affairs, Ogbebor called on the president to scrap the supervisory ministry as well as get to the root of the ‘unprecedented’ looting in the commission, adding that if the NDDC is directly attached to the presidency, the Ministry of Niger Delta would be irrelevant.
According to her, “The region have been pushed into further crisis by a few greedy people through wanton looting of the monies meant for the developing the region. If nothing is done to salvage the situation, it could paintthe present administration in bad light. The situation would portray Buhari as a weak man without integrity or one who has abandoned the people of the region to the fate of the looters in the agency.
“NDDC was created with a master plan to solve the crises in the region, but today, what has happened to the plan. The region is instead regarded as the most underdeveloped in the country. Therefore, we must review the Act that created NDDC, and have the presidency directly supervising it if the agency must achieve any meaningful development in the region.”
The veteran journalist, who stated that no meaningful development has taken place in the area since the inception of NDDC, added that unfortunately, the commission was basically conceived as a tool for people of the region to actualise their common vision and build their future to the standard they desire, “but today, there is no good school, road, hospital, transport system among other social amenities in the area that produces the golden egg for the country, as the people suffer immense environmental degradation among other disaster in the area.
“NDDC was established because the area lacked basic infrastructure, which led to the perennial violence in the region. As it is, it has failed in its responsibility to meet the people’s need, and the only remedy is to go back to the basis by thoroughly reviewing the Act on which the interventionist agency was created, and attach it directly to the presidency, this will also end the wanton looting in the agency, and the monies channelled in the right direction.”