GOVERNOR Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State has told President Muhammadu Buhari to reconstitute the Board of Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, saying that instability in the commission’s board has contributed to the systemic institutional failure of the agency.
Speaking at the launch of ‘Resource Dependence, Violent Conflict and Economic Development in the Niger Delta Region of Nigeria’, a book written by Dr Michael Tidi, Chairman, Warri South Local Government Council, Okowa stressed the need for Buhari to give NDDC a board that would be accountable and eliminate politicization of the interventionist agency.
Saying that it was time for Niger Delta people to collectively talk about the commission, he said: “I am not happy when I see the type of projects embarked upon by the NDDC in recent times. They ought to embark on inter-regional projects and also build major roads that connect one part of a state to another and not one kilometer of roads as the case may be”.
Okowa, who is the Chairman, South-South Governors’ Forum, said aside the stipends being paid to some ex-militants under the Amnesty Programme, the Federal Government should also empower the people on skill acquisition and set them up as real entrepreneurs.
According to him, the Federal Government ought to find a pathway for those trained, because many of the skill acquisition centres being built have been abandoned.
He deplored the attitude of some persons saddled with management of agencies and programmes established for the development of the Niger Delta, saying “unfortunately, some of our people when appointed, they go there for the wrong reasons and it is imperative that we must appoint people that can be held accountable for their actions during their tenure.
“There is a need to develop the Amnesty Programme to become sustainable so that the people can benefit from it. We have truly started up by trying to solve the problem at the foundation stage without building them up to become self-reliant.
“Our people must realise that we cannot continue to play politics with what we say or do. Recently in Port Harcourt, we called for resource control and restructuring because the Constitution as it is now, cannot develop the country.
“Give us 100 per cent and we can pay you tax of 50 per cent, and I hear people asking what the governors had done with the 13 per cent derivation?
Chairman of the occasion, Prof. Sam Oyovbaire, who was represented by Prof. Sam Ukala, said in his opening remarks that every book launch was a harvest of creative intellectual diligence, a keen analysis of human problems and recommendations to the problems.
He said that the book which dwelt on the adverse effects of oil exploitation by multinational companies and its attendant harmful effects was an invaluable gift to the governments and people of the Niger Delta and Nigerians.
The Book Reviewer and Chief Economic Adviser to Oyo State Governor, Dr Babatunde Adetunji, commended the author for doing justice to the book.
He said institutional framework failures and injustice had led to increase in income inequality and poverty in Wiger Delta.