Oil bearing communities of the Niger Delta region have called on President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to institute a forensic team to audit the activities of the Niger Delta Affairs Ministry since its inception some twelve years ago.
In a resolution reached at the end of a stakeholders meeting in Port Harcourt, Rivers state on Wednesday, the mineral producing communities reiterated that it would be to the best interest of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, for the ministry to either be scrapped or relocated to the Niger Delta region for maximum productivity.
“The President should institute and empaneled a forensic audit of the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs in order for him to have firsthand the issues that have militated against the optimal performance of the Ministry since its creation twelve years ago”, the communities said.
Speaking further on this development, Joseph Ambakederimo, Convener of South-South Reawakening Group and Chairman, Board of Trustees Community Development Committees of Niger Delta Oil and Gas Producing Areas, said the Ministry has not been useful and has not met the aspirations of the people of the oil producing areas since it was esrablished.
“We need the Honourable Minister to bring forth verifiable list of projects undertaken by his Ministry for the past twelve years that the Ministry has existed either ongoing, completed or abandoned. We must verify these projects to corroborate our position that we have held before now. l will challenge the Honourable Minister of Niger Delta Development to a debate on National Television so that we can better appreciate the position we have held that the Ministry does not need to exist a day longer than necessary”.
Ambakederimo said that the Ministry was created to assuage the agitation of a people who were not actually sure of what the region really wanted. “If you ask me what we have gained in the region with all the duplication of agencies with overlapping functions, my response and that of many of our people would be Nothing whatsoever.
“We have also identified that the Ministry is a distraction on Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC). The NDDC decline started about three years after the Ministry was created and it became worse when the then Minister, Senator Godswill Akpabio, now the President of the Senate took charge. The obsession that was brought to bear on the NDDC was suspect and of course our fears were confirmed”.
He said that the recommendations of the Steve Oronsaye committee that listed the Ministry of Niger Delta Development amongst others to be scrapped was the most ideal recommendations given by that committee.
“We support the position of the Steve Oronsaye committee and we hereby call on the President to do the needful as soon as practicable. Those calling for the retention of the Ministry of Niger Delta Development are beneficiaries of the diversion of the resources to line their pockets. If the Ministry must stay, then it is there to line the pockets of a few”.
The CDC chairman was of the opinion that the budgetary provision for the Ministry should be channeled to the NDDC so that it can perform maximally.
“The NDDC has to its credit roads and bridges that have cut through virgin forests, electrification of far flung communities in the creeks, thousands of hectares of land that have been reclaimed, thousands of square kilometers of shore protection, access roads to farming settlements for ease of evacuation of farm produce to urban markets, verifiable wealth creation strategies and empowerment schemes targeted at youths of the oil producing areas and many others too numerous to mention”, he listed.