by Richard Romanus
It’s been 16 years after the Niger Delta Development commission (NDDC)was established with a core mandate of improving social and environmental conditions of the people of Southern region but one question that seems to be begging for answer is; Whether or not, the commission has achieved it’s mandate.
It is true that successive administrations,before the establishment of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC),had made concerted effort towards alleviating the poverty and suffering of the people through the establishment of Niger Delta Development Board (NDDB), Niger Delta Basin Development Authority (NDDBDA) and Oil Mineral Producing Development Areas Commission (OMPADEC),all at different periods and regime.
However, all of such efforts were either thwarted by either lack of sincerity of purpose by those saddled with the responsibility or lack of funding by the same government.
Comparatively, the Niger Delta Development Commission since its establishment by President Olusegun Obasanjo, unlike others have tried to live up to its core objectives especially in the areas of roads, skill acquisition and transportation but I dare say that more could have been achieved if all that have had the opportunity to serve in one position or the other at different times in the commission, do so with the interest of the people of Niger Delta at heart first before their interest.
The commission has over the years been denied of people of impeccable character and integrity which is why some of the many projects and programmes that have been introduced by the commission,some with very good chances of impacting positively on the people and region had failed.
Some of the several schemes, successive management of NDDC have floated to deceive the people, include, NDDC mass transit scheme where drivers were given substandard vehicles for hire purchase, Construction of fake roads that cannot withstand one heavy rainfall,procurement and sharing of solar power streets lights amongst the top brass of the commission to the detriment of most communities in the Niger Delta that could have needed it most among others.
A closer look at how the commission has operated since its establishment, reveals how the focus of its several management embarks more on gigantic projects that will satisfy their interest in terms of monetary gains and not a type that will have direct impact on the very same people the commission was meant to Carter for.
The appointment of Senator Victor Ndoma Egba at a time, the Niger Delta region is witnessing renewed crises is commendable and apt as he is one of the few Nigerians who go out of their way to ensure that,things are done correctly and valuable impacts are left behind in any office they occupy. His record in the Senate is there for any Nigeria to see.
Therefore,His invaluable advise and recommendations to Mr President on how to appease the people of Niger Delta after a long period of neglect and underdevelopment of the region is expected of him since his new assignment affords him the opportunity to interface with people.
Furthermore, with his huge experience in the public service, one expects that, the commission under his watch fully assumes it’s powers and functions of formulating policies and guidelines for the development of Niger Delta as well as Conceive,plan, and implement in accordance with set rules and regulations, projects and programmes for the sustainable development of the area especially in the field of transportation, roads construction, industrialisation, water supply and electricity, agriculture, fisheries, housing and urban development among others.
It is now the responsibility of the new Chairman to ensure that he puts a stop to the numerous sharp practices of members of the board and commission that has hampered it from making considerable impact.
It was Former President Goodluck Jonathan, during the commemoration of the Isaac Jasper Adaka Boro in London who said ” we cannot achieve the goals we have set for ourselves if we don’t act as one people. Societal growth is delayed if not guided by the compass of collective vision and a well defined destination”. The new board and commission must ensure that, the commission’s projects are evenly distributed devoid of party politics and favouritism as it is only then, the Niger Delta of our dream can be realise.
On his part, they is an urgent need to appoint new people as aides in order to reflect Change while he avoids the mistake of reappointing certain people who were with him at the Senate because like somebody rightly posited, most of them were his greatest undoing.
With him as the new NDDC chairman, I believe that, the Ovukwa woman in Obubra Local Government Area,that urgently needs a motorable Road to enable him carry his farm produce to the market will get attention while the oderegha man also in Obubra Local Government Area whose only source of drinking water is ‘ibaja’ or ‘Chicago’ will be rest assured that help is on its way.
What about other interior communities in the Niger Delta region where development seems to be elusive, it is my believe that, the new board of NDDC under the Chairmanship of Senator Victor Ndoma Egba will give every state, local government, ward and community a sense of belonging after all CHANGE has come.
May the dark patches in the Niger Delta give way to light.
Op–ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija
Richard Romanus is a public affairs commentator from Cross River. He can be reached on 08117135257.