Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike has declared that the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has failed to live up to the expectations of the people of Niger Delta region.
He disclosed this yesterday during the visit of the Acting Managing Director of NDDC, Prof. Nelson Braimbaifa, to the governor in his office, where he noted that the commission had become a political institution where funds were being used for political purposes, other than for the development of the region.
Wike, who also condemned the Federal Government for deliberately refusing to constitute the NDDC Governor’s Advisory Committee mainly because the South-South states are controlled by the PDP, however, regretted that any prominent politician in the geo-political zone, who wants to contest the governor seat, is appointed a Managing Director for NDDC.
He said such politicians were allowed to siphon development funds, only to resign two weeks to the election.
The governor added that NDDC could not make significant impact in Niger Delta communities because the states were never involved in the siting and design of projects, saying: “NDDC has become a political institution where money is set aside for politics. Mention one mega project by the NDDC anywhere in Rivers State.”
Wike added: “The only mega project is the Mother and Child Hospital, which was to be a joint project, but the NDDC duped the Rivers State government. For the Mother and Child Hospital, we paid our counterpart fund and NDDC paid nothing. We have taken over the project, yet the NDDC has refused to refund our money. If the NDDC fails to refund our counterpart fund in seven days, we will drag the Commission to court.”
But, in his remarks, Prof. Nelson Briambaifa said that the Commission was committed to executing projects that would improve the lives of the people of the Niger Delta region.
He said several key projects had been designed by the NDDC to improve the living standard of the people, even as he called for the revival of the NDDC Governors’ Advisory Committee to assist the NDDC to carry out its development projects in the region.
However, the governor noted that NDDC could only make progress when state government in Niger Delta region were involved in the process of project location and design, stressing: “They have refused to constitute the Governors’ Board for NNDC since 2015, because majority of the South-South states are controlled by the PDP.”
“Nineteen years after its establishment, the NDDC is still constructing its headquarters. All the participating states have no mega projects. The NDDC was designed to help the Niger Delta grow, but that is not the situation on ground. Can we justify the funds that have passed through the NDDC?” he said.
He said that the leadership of the NDDC was mainly controlled from outside the region, a situation which the governor added, made it difficult for the current management to visit the Rivers State government on their appointment.
Wike added: “You are coming because I have won election. You were on ground for six months, but never thought it wise to visit your chief host. The Rivers State Government gave NDDC a building and take-off grant to commence work. They told you not to come, but God in his own way ensured we are still here.
“It is a shame that what our people in the Niger Delta fought for is not what is on ground at the NDDC. You claim to have over 1,000 projects in Rivers State and we are still where we are today.”
Wike advised the management of the NDDC to go back to the drawing board to fashion out ways to site mega projects in the states where the Commission operates, saying the current piecemeal projects would not help to develop the region.