Thursday, October 5, 2017 9:52 am
Okafor Ofiebor/Port Harcourt
Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, often described as a cesspool of incompetence and corruption is under fresh attack over alleged non-performance with Akwa Ibom State Governor, Udom Emmanuel, and students on foreign scholarships taking the lead in hammering the Commission.
On Tuesday, Akwa-Ibom Governor warned the commission not to embark on development projects in any of the Niger Delta states without first seeking the governors’ permission.
Mr. Emmanuel, who was addressing a security summit for the South-south region held on Tuesday in Uyo, abandoned his written speech mid-way to call out the Managing Director of NDDC, Nsima Ekere, who was present in the summit. The event was organised by the Nigeria Police.
“Let me use this opportunity that the MD of NDDC is here to state clearly that NDDC does not own even a piece of land,” Mr. Emmanuel said. “It is the governors that are in-charge of land.”
“NDDC should not enter any of the nine states to do any project without permission from the governors,” Mr. Emmanuel said.
The governor went on to accuse the NDDC of not executing “even a kilometre of road” in Akwa Ibom, adding that the commission’s projects were being “politicised”.
“So we can actually come together…. The state government, federal government agencies joining together to actually make sure we impact on the lives of people.
“When it is time for politics we will play politics. When it’s time for development, let’s develop and impact on the lives of our people and leave some of these things that we are doing.”
In his written speech, which was circulated widely on the Internet immediately after the event, Mr. Emmanuel alleged that the NDDC was building substandard roads.
“A situation where roads executed by the agency falls into serious disrepair less than a year after it was commissioned makes a mockery of the efforts of government and causes lack of trust on the part of the people,” the governor said in the address, adding that the commission should be advised to step up their project quality.
The NDDC chief, Mr. Ekwere, did not speak at the event.
He tweeted later in the evening, after the event, that the Commission won’t be able to achieve its mandate of developing the Niger Delta if there was no peace and security in the region.
Mr. Ekere and the NDDC has been under constant attack from Governor Udom and the supporters of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Akwa Ibom because of the speculations that he would likely get the All Progressives Congress, APC, ticket to run for the 2019 governorship election in the state.
In a related development, Niger Delta students on scholarships in overseas have also accused NDDC of attempting to ruin their lives and education because the universities where they are undergoing their postgraduate programmes have shut them out due to failure of the Commission to pay their fees.
The students had in a petition lamented that despite several appeals through correspondences, the Commission has refused to pay.
They therefore appealed to the Commission to fulfill its obligations to their universities to enable them complete their studies abroad.
However, Ibitonye Abosede, spokesperson for NDDC in his reaction to the allegation said that the affected students were to blame because they changed to new universities without the knowledge of the management of NDDC.
But some insiders debunked Abosede’s claim as they confided in this magazine that some top management of the federal agency is having its priorities in other areas where contracts can be awarded and garner enough resources to pursue political ambitions ahead of 2019 rather than focus its attention on postgraduate students who do not known how to show “appreciation”.