NDDC repositioning to better develop Niger Delta region -Ag Head
Cyril Mbah, Abuja
The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has commenced thorough internal reforms that will reposition the agency and properly empower it to implement its mandate as the foremost driving force in the development of the region.
The acting administrator and executive secretary of the NDDC, Effiong Okon Akwa, who made this known in Abuja on Tuesday, stated that the endless agitations in the Niger Delta came as a result of the long neglect of the area despite being the nation’s economic live-wire.
Akwa spoke as the guest lecturer at the department of history and diplomatic studies, University of Abuja 4th Democracy Lecture Series organised by the institution to enlighten the public on aspects of nation-building that requires improvement.
The administrator, who spoke on “the role of the NDDC in national development,” stated that many factors were responsible for the underdevelopment of the Niger Delta region despite being an oil producing area.
He listed the factors militating against development as political, economic, administrative, cultural, educational disadvantages and controllable social issues like the restiveness of the youth population that comes from a feeling of being grossly marginalized and abandoned due to non-inclusive government policies and programmes.
Even now, he said, many communities in the Niger Delta region live below the accepted international poverty line while infrastructural development has remains in its infantile stages with many abandoned projects in the area despite the billions on Naira harnessed from the region through its national resources.
The acting administrator commended the ongoing probe of the NDDC, stating that the forensic audit aims at repositioning the commission to meet the needs and demands of oil producing communities.
He told the audience that the recent sustained media campaigns against the NDDC, which led to the forensic audit happened because of poor public enlightenment on the activities of the commission which, he said, has positively impacted on the region.
On the funding of the NDDC, Akwa said the commission had not received complete annual budget allocations since its inception but has performed tremendous community development tasks, such as empowering the youths, developing communities by providing them with essential facilities, like water and electricity, among others, with the little financial resources at its disposal.
He also said the NDDC rolled out several skills acquisition programmes which empowered many youths in the region and also impacted on communities by providing free healthcare and water supply services for people at various levels.
In his opening remarks, the vice chancellor of the University of Abuja, Professor Abdulrasheed Na’Allah, stated that the university restarted the lecture series to help provide solutions to the teething problems fundamental to the growth of the nation such as why development has eluded Nigeria even after experimenting with several systems of government and after attaining independence for almost 60 years.
He said the NDDC was chosen to feature in the current lecture series to enable officials throw some light on the numerous controversies dogging the commission and efforts to reposition it for greater productivity to serve the nation better.