The Akwa Ibom State government has decried the abandonment of projects intiated by the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, in the state.
The Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, made the condemnation the Government House Uyo when the Senate Committee on the Niger Delta and the NDDC directors led by the Acting Managing Director, Mrs Ibim Semenetari, paid him a courtesy visit.
He was represented by the Deputy Governor, Mr. Moses Ekpo, appealed to the NDDC to complete all on-going and abandoned projects in the state and thereafter begin new ones that would be relevant to the needs of the state.
According to the Depputy Governor “There are so many projects scattered all over the state. Some are described as on-going, yet the contractors have since left the sites. NDDC should look at such cases.”
On the Amnesty Programme, Chief Ekpo regretted that former militants from Akwa Ibom State were not integrated in the rehabilitation scheme and “we don’t know why this is so.”
He pointed out that “Akwa Ibom State deserves a bigger allocation of projects from the NDDC.”
and admonished the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, to accord the state a better treatment in the allocation of development projects.
Udom justified the demand for a more generous allocation by stating that Akwa Ibom State was contributing over 40 per cent to the wealth of the country through oil and was also the biggest contributor to the funds of the NDDC.
“We think that the NDDC should constantly cross-check with states in the region on projects to avoid unnecessary duplications. The commission should also monitor and supervise projects properly to ensure that acceptable standards are met. I doubt that that is being done currently.”
In his remarks, the chairman of the Senate Committee, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi, said that they were on a fact-finding mission. “We are here on referral from the Senate on the performance of NDDC. The Senate directed we should find out the impact of the NDDC on the lives of the people of the Niger Delta.”
Senator Nwaoboshi said the committee oversights NDDC, the Ministry of Niger Delta and the Amnesty Programme of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, adding that its mission was not to witch-hunt.
“We are here to find out what the NDDC has done with the funds appropriated for it. Have they been able to positively affect the lives of the people? Has the money been judiciously used for the benefit of the people? Secondly, we are about working out the details of the 2016 budget. So, we need to find out the special interest of the states in terms of projects.”
He said that Akwa Ibom State was a major stakeholder in the Niger Delta region and as such it was important for the committee to ensure that it was getting commensurate benefit from the NDDC.
In a relted developmet, The Senate Committee on the Niger Delta has promised to treat the 2016 budget of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, with speed and urgency.
The Chairman of the Committee, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi, told newsmen that the financial appropriations for the commission would be ready within one month after the passage of the Federal Government’s budget.
Senator Nwaoboshi was speaking at the end of a two-day inspection tour of NDDC projects in Akwa Ibom State by the Senate committee and directors of the interventionist agency.
He declared “I can assure you that as soon as we get the budget, we will work on it expeditiously. We are already collating facts. In fact, with what we have seen on the ground, we are set to go. As soon as the Federal Government’s budget is passed, within one month, you can be sure that we will get the NDDC budget out.”
The committee chairman explained that one of the reasons for the late approval of NDDC budgets in the past was because it had to wait for the passage of the Federal Government’s budget to know what had been allocated to it.
Senator Nwaoboshi said: “We will not allow what happened in the general budget to happen to the NDDC budget. This time, we are going to go through the budget line by line to determine the relevance of the projects to the people of the Niger Delta. We will see whether that is what they deserve and what they demand before allocating funds for the projects. It is not going to be a budget for projects to be scattered everywhere and nothing is achieved at the end of the day.”
“People should understand that we are in the 8th Senate. We are not just going to allocate money for no particular purpose. We are going to look at the projects for which the money is being allocated. This time, if we identify a project and we think that it is relevant to the people, we will make budgetary provision for it.”
The committee chairman said further: “One of the things we have gained from our visits to the project sites is that it has exposed us to certain facts that were unknown to us previously. We are going to look at these projects and make sure that they are funded, especially those that are of great importance to the people of the Niger Delta. It is not going to be business as usual.”
“The NDDC has asked state governments to make inputs into its 2016 budget. It is not going to be just any kind of contribution. We won’t allow special interests from government officials to use that as an opportunity to feather their own nests. We are going to make sure that the proposed projects are relevant to the people of the Niger Delta.”
The committee had earlier inspected the 30-kilometre Nsasak Junction-Okon Road, in Essien Udim Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State. Senator Nwaoboshi commended the contractor for the quality of work on the road. “I am very impressed that a Nigerian contractor did this good job. When you see this type of performance, you will be encouraged. We will recommend this company for more quality jobs. We assure the contractor that money will be appropriated for the project in the 2016 budget.”
The Managing Director of Seyang Construction, the company handling the project, Engr. Sam Inyang, said that the road would be the shortest route from Akwa Ibom to Rivers state through Aba. He also described the road as having huge potentials for economic benefits to the people of several communities and local governments in the area.