By Emmanuel Addeh
A Niger Delta rights group, the Global Forum for Accountability and Transparency, has kicked against calls for the scrapping of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
Instead, it asked that the commission be moved from the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, where it currently resides to the Presidency for proper supervision as it was before the its relocation.
Founder and lead executive of the group, Mr. Joseph Ambakederimo, in a release made available in Abuja, noted that what was lacking was the political will to restructure the commission and make it deliver for the people of the region.
“As Nigerians, we would not lend our voice to the call for the scrapping of the NDDC. We cannot throw the baby away with the bathwater, but to return the commission to the Presidency.
“There are many qualified men and women from across the length and breadth of the region that can make the difference and bring a change to the region.
“It is the political will that is lacking and the people of the region who inadvertently have not shown a deep understanding of what our desires for the region would be and the deliberate effort for excessive greed has blinded our consciousness to delineate between the management and application of personal funds and public funds.
“Going further to make a case for the NDDC to continue to exist, we must look back to the heyday of the commission when a letter of contract award is already seen as “cash” in your hands and contracts awarded were actually executed and paid for.
“We can also recall how bankers will pursue contractors everywhere just to get them to be issued Advance Payment Guarantee to secure 15 per cent mobilisation fees. We have had NDDC roads and bridges projects cutting through virgin forest are abound in the region also electricity projects and many more,” the group noted.
The group added that in the past, the commission had to partner with International Oil Companies (IOCs) to construct roads and bridges that stood the test of time.
“One of such roads is the Yenagoa/Nembe road in Bayelsa and another major bridge in Akwa Ibom, the commission is not all gloom and doom. We should be careful not to shoot ourselves in the foot. What we need is a manager of man and material to turn the region around and it is doable.
“In furtherance to the above, every substantive board must live out its full tenure and this should be made mandatory. This is to forestall the incessant break in the middle for abuse which have now become the hallmark of the NDDC.