Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) has thrown its weight behind the decision by President Muhammadu Buhari to carry out a forensic audit of the accounts of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
The group also urged the President to extend the forensic audit exercise to other interventionist organisations like the Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF).
It also demanded that the names of beneficiaries of NDDC contracts awarded between 2001 and 2019 should be exposed and published.
Arising from a three-day National Leadership retreat in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, the group, in a communique by its National Chairman, Air Commodore Idongesit Nkanga (rtd), and Deputy National Chairman, Chief Francis Doukploa among others, said that for the NDDC to be effective, there must be less political interference in the operations of the commission.
The group which had the theme: “Re-engineering for the future togther” said NDDC must be adequately funded and lamented the poor state of critical infrastructure in the Niger Delta region especially the roads.
It called on the federal government to give immediate attention to the East-West road from Benin to Calabar, Calabar-Itu-Ikot Ekpene-Aba road, Ogoja-Ikom-Calabar road and the Port Harcourt to Aba road.
PANDEF commended the federal government for the peaceful resolution of the contention surrounding the license and operation of Oil Marginal License (OML) 25 located in Belema, Offoinama and Ngeje communities in Kula Kingdom of Akuku Toru Local Government Area in Rivers State.
It urged the federal government to also use the same approach to resolve the OML disputes in other Niger Delta oil host communities.
While commending Belema Oil for the human and infrastructural development in its oil and gas-bearing host communities, the group encouraged international and indigenous oil companies operating in the region to respect the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) they have with their host communities.
“PANDEF welcomes the order of President Muhammadu Buhari of a forensic audit of the NDDC accounts from 2001 to 2019. However demands that names of beneficiaries of contracts of the commission over the period under review should be made public.
“In addition, insists that for NDDC to function effectively there must be adequate funding and less political interference.
“PANDEF further urges Mr. President to extend the order of forensic audit to other national interventionist organisations like the Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF).
“Restates its position on Restructuring and calls on the federal government to as a matter of urgency begin a constructive dialogue process on the restructuring of the country,” they stated.
The group charged the governors of the region and all political office holders to give greater attention to job creation, rural women and youth development, healthcare and education to check the growing rate of youth delinquency.
It urged youths of the region to eschew actions and behaviours that could endanger the security and peace of the region as well as their future, and condemned the increasing rate of criminality and cult related activities in the region.
PANDEF noted that it was committed to the pursuit of understanding and peaceful co-existence among other ethnic groups in the region, saying it would continue to work with other regional bodies in the country to enshrine an egalitarian nation.