NDDC Cries Out, Tells Politicians: Don’t Use Us as Target in Your Fight for Power, Influence

The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), an interventionist agency that has been on the spot in recent weeks, is currently struggling to free itself from the unbearable weight of some meddlesome politicians.

The management of the obviously bruised commission is pleading with politicians to desist from seeing the development agency as a collateral target in their fight for power and influence.

NDDC’s Director of Corporate Affairs, Charles Odili, who made the plea in a statement on Tuesday said, ‘’we have a sacred duty to the people of the region to deliver on our historic mandate.
The NDDC is working for the common good, for the corporate citizens of the Niger Delta region.’’

According to him, ‘’the commission has prioritised key projects for completion. One of such is the N24 billion 29 kilometre Ogbia-Nembe road which is due for commissioning. This road creates a land route to Nembe, and also opens up arable lands for economic activity. We are also embarking on the emergency repair of roads. One of such roads, Reclamation Road in Port Harcourt had revived the fortunes of the Nigerian Naval Shipyard, and dozens of industries in the vicinity of the Port Harcourt Port.’’

Continuing, he said the commission is focusing on small segments of the population who are often neglected in development schemes. To this end, NDDC, going by Odili’s claim, is intervening in women and youth empowerment as well as providing support for those with disability.

The NDDC spokesman was reacting to the flurry of perceived media attacks against the commission, which allegedly started with petitions to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). ‘’It is instructive to note that officials of the crime commission being persons with proven intellect and integrity, saw through the pack of lies, and this exonerated the executive management from any malfeasance. The discerning public also saw through the monumental lie, as no person or entity in Nigeria can withdraw N2.8 billion, in cash, across the counter’’, the statement said.

NDDC says the alleged squandering of N750 billion by the executive management is laughable because its entire budget in the last two years is not up to that amount, pointing out that any one conversant with public sector rules, and the strict financial regulations enforced by the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, will know that a government agency cannot spend what amounts to more than twice it’s two year’s budget in four months.

According the commission, its executive management under Prof Nelson Brambaifa, on assumption of office drew up a strategy of intervention to kick start the economy of the region and drive progressive development.

‘’As a result, it decided to tackle the mountain of debt owed to contractors. As part of that process, payment had commenced for those owed N20 million and below. Some of these date back to 2008. These debts, were not incurred nor contracts awarded by the present management. Those who have been paid did not need to engage with the commission before being paid. This, in fact, is a sea change in contractual responsibility on the part of the commission.

‘’The executive management had also cleared all arrears of tuition and maintenance fees owed scholars of the commission studying abroad. In the last four months, at least N2 billion have been remitted. The liability in respect of the scholars dates back to 2018, before this executive management assumed office on January 25, 2019.

‘’The executive management, made up of only technocrats, is working assiduously to address the multifarious challenges of development of the region. It is doing this in tha face of scarce resources. For the purpose of clarity, the revenue inflow to the commission is an average of N7 billion a month.

‘’Rather than become the victim of a smear campaign, this management deserves acclaim. We are happy that the ordinary people of the region (silent majority) who are beneficiaries of the work of the present management in the past four months have appreciated our efforts and given resounding approval’’, Odili said in his statement

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