Niger Delta commission received N 210 bn in 6 years
The Managing Director of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Mr Emmanuel Aguariavwodo, disclosed that the
commission, in the past six years of its existence, had received N 210 bn with which it had executed the projects now
Speaking on "The Niger Delta Region and the Federal Government: Partnering for Progress" at the third anniversary of the African Independent Television (AIT) in the South-South region, the NDDC boss stated that the Federal Government had in the last six years spent more than it ever did from 1960 to 1999. He said this was a proof of the commitment of the President Olusegun Obasanjo administration to the development of the region, stressing that the establishment of another committee on the development of the region further showed the desire for its well being.
Aguariavwodo, however, admitted that the problems of the region are beyond the capacity of the intervention body to
handle alone, adding that, if more funds were made available to the commission, itwould take on more and costlier
projects. According to him, they have so far completed 2,000 projects while 140 were on-going, in addition to 670
which were nearing completion.
He also pointed out that the problems of unemployment, lack of basic educational facilities in the region, general dearth of developmental infrastructure and low income of the people who have had their means of livelihood destroyed were some of NDDC's problems. He regretted that apart from the current local content policy, almost all the money spent in the oil and gas sector did not benefit the local oil producing communities as they lacked the skill to be involved.
But after his presentation, which also bordered on the plans by the Commission to effectively implement the Niger
Delta Development Plan, Aguariavwodo was taken to task by participants who dismissed his explanations as "words not
matched by action". They said they did not understand why the N 210 bn received by the Commission did not reflect in
the quality and quantity of work so far done as it was yet to reflect on the lives of the rural populace.
Former Adviser to Governor Peter Odili on Security Matters, Chief Sarah Igbe further criticised NDDC saying, "Six years after the creation of the NDDC, there have been no practical steps to restore the destroyed means of livelihood of the people whose farmlands and fishing occupation have ceased to be useful due to pollution."
But responding to the criticisms, the NDDC boss noted that the Commission performed to the extent of the funds
available, pointing out that the East-West road the people were blaming him for its bad state was valued at N 230 bn,
while the money they have got in the past six years was N 210 bn, still short of the cost of the road.
Former Vice-Chancellor of University of Port Harcourt, Professor Nimi Briggs also made a presentation on "The Quest for South-South Presidency and the 2007 General Elections" after which opinions became sharply divided on the ability of the region to articulate and achieve the Presidency they were clamouring for come 2007. He had pointed out that while a lot of money running into trillions has been reaped from the region, the standard of living of the people does not reflect that such region produces such amount while they were yet to produce a President since the inception of Nigeria.
While Briggs insisted that there were eminently qualified candidates from the region to take the reigns of power in
2007, some participants disagreed on the ground that governance at the State and Local Government levels had nothing
to show for the benefit of the electorates which therefore disqualifies those aspiring to higher offices from the
Mr Nimi Waltson Jack, however, reminded the gathering that the slogan of justice, equity and fair play was not enough to get them the position. He said a starting point was to beg the grassroots for forgiveness over the way their will were thwarted at the polls in 2003 elections.
He alleged that elections did not hold in the South East and South-South in 2003, which eroded the confidence of the
people in the ballot box before concluding that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), cannot perform
any miracle in 2007 with the politicians having perfected their rigging styles.
To him, those politicians who supported third term and opposed resource control would not benefit the region if they assume the position of the President, adding that what would develop the region was resource allocation instead of a non-performing President.