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Niger Delta: Akpabio calls for improved funding of NDDC

The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Sen. Godswill Akpabio, has called for improved funding for the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to enhance the infrastructural development of the region. Akpabio made the call in his keynote address during the NDDC strategic capacity building workshop on Friday in Uyo.

He said the funding system was poor because budgetary provisions for the commission were staggered and did not come as and when due. The minister who called for an amendment of the laws establishing the agency should the need arise, added that he was determined to leave the commission better than he met it.

“The commission is broke because the funding system is poor. We must leave the NDDC better than we found it even if it means that the lawmakers have to tinker with the law. “The current funding patterns and budgeting processes must embrace good governance to achieve the best we can, while asking for more funds to carry out more sustainable projects and programmes,” Akpabio said.

The minister said corruption, weak political and institutional governance, transparency and lack of proper consultation and engagement with the communities and state governments among others, were challenges confronting the commission. “Corruption is one of the greatest problems of the Nigerian society and it also finds its ugly and devastating effects in all sectors of the polity, including the NDDC.

“The level of corruption engulfed all the sectors including government, parastatals, ministries, government officials and community leaders even the youth leaders and the NDDC is not left out. “Weak political and institutional governance in the Niger Delta has led to the misuse of public resources, poor service delivery and poor enforcement of the law. “The consequence has been the lingering restiveness, breakdown of trust, abuse and misuse of power between officials and the communities, embezzlement and attendant violence,” he said.

In his welcome address, the Interim Administrator/Chief Executive Officer of the NDDC, Mr Effiong Akwa, said the retreat was in furtherance of consultation with its stakeholders for speedy development of the region. Akwa said that the NDDC was done with its unsavoury past, stressing that continuous consultation and collaboration for effective development were the focus of the commission. He urged all stakeholders and the Niger Delta to join hands for the benefit of the people.

Buhari commissions new NDDC headquarters

President Muhammadu Buhari says the inauguration of the new headquarters building of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, marks an important milestone in his administration’s effort to reposition the Commission for the overall development of the Niger Delta region.

Speaking at the virtual commissioning of the new headquarters complex at the Marine Base, Port Harcourt, President Buhari, observed that the new headquarters building was initiated by the defunct Oil Minerals Producing Areas Development Commission, OMPADEC, in 1996.

Buhari said: “In 2015, as part of my administration’s objectives, we started a holistic reform of the NDDC for greater service delivery for the people of the region. To achieve this goal, I reassigned the supervision of the NDDC to the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs for administrative efficiency.

“Second, was the appointment of Forensic Auditors to review the operations of the NDDC from inception to 2019 to ensure that appropriations made to the NDDC are commensurate with what is on ground.”

The President commended the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, for providing the required leadership that saw to the completion of the office complex, noting that money spent on rent would now be saved and deployed to other areas of needs to the region.

Buhari said: “I commend the management and staff of the NDDC for staying on course and keying into the development agenda of my administration. I am particularly pleased to note the cordial relationship between the NDDC and the National Assembly and hope that this relationship will be strengthened for the benefits of the people of the Niger Delta region.”

Speaking earlier, the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, said that he was the first minister to visit the new headquarters when it was under construction.

He noted that for over 15 years the old headquarters on Aba Road was not connected to the national grid and thanked the President for making it possible for this anomaly to be halted.

Akpabio declared: “The President deserves a big reward for showing love to the people of the Niger Delta. I also thank the Interim Administrator and the former Managing Directors of the NDDC for their efforts to see to the completion of the new headquarters.”

In his welcome address, the NDDC Interim Administrator, Mr Efiong Akwa, commended President Buhari, the Minister of the Niger Delta Affairs and members of the defunct Interim Management Committee for a job well done.

The NDDC Chief Executive Officer thanked the President for reassigning of NDDC to the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, stating that the office complex stood as a monument to what Niger Delta people stood for, as “a people who are strong and resolute.”

“It is noteworthy to observe that President Buhari, in a demonstration of the remarkable political will, initiated three major policies that impacted positively on the speedy completion of this project.”

First was the re-assignment of the supervision of the NDDC to the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs. Then second, was the appointment of forensic auditors to review the activities of the Commission form inception up to the year 2019. With the forensic audit exercise, it can no longer be business as usual in the Commission.

Third was the policy direction for the completion of all abandoned projects which have positive impact on the people. The completion of this edifice is, therefore, a direct consequence of Mr President’s focused policy direction.”

I specially commend the Governor of Rivers State and the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs who turned Mr. President’s directive into completion of the project.

Speaking on behalf of the governors of the nine Niger Delta states, the Imo State Governor, Senator Hope Uzodinnma, expressed gratitude to President Buhari for the realisation of the new headquarters.

He said that credit must be given to President Buhari for making the project a reality, stating: “With the completion of the new headquarters, the NDDC will stop the money being wasted on rents and channel it to more productive ventures.

The governor commended President Buhari for setting up a forensic audit and appointing an Interim Administrator to manage the NDDC until the end of the forensic audit.

In his goodwill message, the Amayanabo of Twon-Brass, King Alfred Diete-Spiff, said he was pleased to be part of commissioning of what he described as a magnificent complex. “This is the right step in the right direction, we the chiefs and elders of the Niger Delta stand behind the President and the leadership of the NDDC,” he said.

L-R: The Chief Executive Officer of Innoson Kiara Academy, Mr Endi Ezengwa, Special Adviser on Youths to NDDC Interim Administrator, Engr. Udengs Eradiri, and the NDDC Deputy Director Commercial and Industrial Development, Sir Daniel Ajunwa, during an inspection at the Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing Company in Nnewi, Anambra State

NDDC to Train Niger Delta Youths at Innoson Motors

The Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, says it will soon commence the training of Niger Delta youths at the Innoson Kiara Academy, a Technical and Vocational Institution, affiliated to the Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing Company, as part of its skills acquisition programme.

The NDDC Interim Administrator, Mr Efiong Akwa, represented by his Special Adviser on Youths, Engr. Udengs Eradiri, said this after inspecting the facilities at the Innoson factory in Nnewi, Anambra State. He was accompanied by the NDDC Deputy Director Commercial and Industrial Development, Sir Daniel Ajunwa.

The statement by the Commission noted that the NDDC already had a partnership with the motor manufacturing company for the training of youths in different aspects of automobile maintenance, stating that the visit to the factory was to firm up the partnership.

According to Akwa, “There are lots of skills that our young ones can get from this facility. They can be trained in fabrication, assembly, painting and corrosion control, among others. We think that because of the growing economy of the Niger Delta and Nigeria, it is important that we begin to grow our own skills to be better able to manage our economy.”

The NDDC Chief Executive Officer observed that the Presidential Amnesty Programme had trained several Niger Delta youths in the facility and they came out with valuable skills. He stressed: “We want to continue with that kind of development and get to a situation where we will have a plant in the Niger Delta that will also be manufacturing vehicles. We will take the partnership to a point where a replica of the Innoson factory will be set up in the Niger Delta region.

“We are aware that the training facility here teaches skills, attitude and entrepreneurship. We know that if you learn a skill, you should be able to translate that into financial gains.”

The Chief Executive Officer of Innoson Kiara Academy, Mr Endi Ezengwa, thanked the NDDC for considering the facilities at Innoson Motors for the training of Niger Delta youths, stating that he looked forward to seeing the partnership come into effect.

According to him, “the skills from our factory is what we want to transfer to our young ones, so that apart from maintenance of vehicles, they can also manufacture vehicles to some degree. For instance, they can manufacture engine bolts, tools for agriculture and generally imbibe the concept of manufacturing.”

Ezengwa said that many of our youths had too much energy that needed to be properly harnessed and channeled into constructive use, such as in fixing vehicles and contributing to the industrialisation of the Niger Delta region.

He assured that the Innoson Group would in due course set up workshops in the Niger Delta region in collaboration with organisations like the NDDC.

In his own remarks, the NDDC Deputy Director Commercial and Industrial Development, Sir Ajunwa, said that the training partnership would be rewarding if the benefitting youths would be sufficiently empowered to set up on their own after the training.

He said that NDDC placed a lot of premium on industrial development and human capacity building and assured that the youths to be selected for the training would be spread across the nine Niger Delta states.

NDDC’s Administrator Harps on Security in Niger Delta

The Interim Administrator of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Mr. Efiong Akwa, has stressed the need for peace and security to create the necessary environment for the rapid development of the Niger Delta region.

Akwa stated this when a delegation from the Nigerian Navy Hydrographic School paid him a courtesy visit at the NDDC new headquarters in Port Harcourt.

According to a statement by the Commission, he said that NDDC needed the support of security agencies to succeed, noting that the presence of international oil companies in the Niger Delta region had made the area susceptible to kidnapping and other forms of criminality.

The NDDC Chief Executive Officer said that much as the mandate of the Hydrographic School was basically training, it should also help with surveillance to provide information and data that would help the other security agencies to ensure a safe marine environment in the region.

He added: “The school should be able to share information and intelligence to make the Niger Delta region a place people will want to visit and set up businesses.”

Akwa said that as an interventionist agency, NDDC had a responsibility to ensure that those who safeguard the lives and property of the people were given the necessary support to enhance their capacity to maintain security in the Niger Delta region.

He deplored a situation where after three decades, the Nigerian Navy Hydrographic School was still unable to get international accreditation because of the absence of some critical infrastructure.

He said: “It is regrettable that you have training boats yet you don’t have a jetty. I assure you that NDDC will assist the school to achieve the objective for which it was established.

“Getting accreditation is something we should be proud to help you achieve because it will enhance the capacity of the Nigerian Navy to project us to the outside world as a people that are ready to make progress in the maritime sector.

“We are going to take your designs for the jetty to our Planning Department to incorporate in our 2021 budget and I am confident that the National Assembly will do justice to it. The jetty will be taken care of as soon as the budget processes are through.”

Earlier, the Commanding Officer, Nigerian Navy Hydrographic School, Capt. Mahmud Fana, appealed to the NDDC for support in providing critical infrastructure that would qualify the training school for international accreditation.

He said: “We are having setbacks because of infrastructure deficiency and we need to have the right environment to be able to provide needed security in our area of operation.”

Fana observed that the Hydrographic School was selected for accreditation in 2018 by the International Hydrographic Organisation but following an inspection of their facilities, the accreditation was withheld pending the availability of some facilities, such as surveying boats and a jetty.

He said that a 2018 contract for the construction of a jetty for the school by NDDC was cancelled on account of design deficiencies. However, he said, the school had now produced an appropriate design and would, therefore, want the NDDC to re-award the contract for the construction of the jetty.

NDDC Acting Executive Director Projects, Dr Cairo Ojoughoh, (right) during a visit to the Coventry University in UK

We’ll begin payment of outstanding scholarship claims soon – NDDC

The Management of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, has reassured the beneficiaries of its Foreign Post Graduate Scholarship programme in the United Kingdom that the remaining scholars will be paid within one week.

According to a statement by the Commission, the NDDC Acting Executive Director Projects, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh, was in London on Thursday, September 17, 2020, with relevant officers of the Commission, to carry out physical verification, monitoring and evaluation of legitimate students on the scholarship programme.

The statement read, “Having concluded the verification exercise, which involved the registration of all scholars and the confirmation of their claims with the various universities, payment of the outstanding fees were to commence immediately.

“Unfortunately, some unforeseen circumstances, including the upheavals that followed the EndSARS protests by youths, constituted stumbling blocks for the speedy implementation of the payment plan.

“Before the protests, which slowed down activities, the NDDC Interim Management Committee, IMC, had released $5,910,000 million through the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, to offset all the verified outstanding foreign scholarship obligations, despite the non-passage of NDDC 2020 budget by the National Assembly.

“Obviously, the CBN was not immune to the sad realities bedeviling the nation in the past few weeks. However, the bank has promised to treat the case of the scholarship beneficiaries with utmost dispatch.

“We appeal for understanding and patience from the students. We urge them not to allow themselves to be used as tools by those sponsoring devious campaigns to discredit the IMC through protests at the Nigerian Embassy in London.

“We re-affirm our commitment to the Post Graduate scholarship Scheme, which is part of our efforts to develop professional manpower to help in the transformation of the Niger Delta region.”

We’ll campaign for a peaceful, clean Niger Delta – NDDC

The Acting Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Gbene Dr Joi Nunieh, says the Commission will drive a Niger Delta Next Level Re-Orientation Campaign to promote a non-violent and clean Niger Delta region.

Dr Nunieh stated this yesterday during a courtesy visit by a delegation from the Amayanabo of Okochiri, in Okrika Local Government Area of Rivers State, King Ateke Tom, at the NDDC headquarters in Port Harcourt.

According to a statement from the Commission, the NDDC Chief Executive Officer was joined at the event by the Acting Executive Director, Finance and Administration, Chief Ibanga Bassey Etang, the Acting Executive Director, Projects, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh and other directors.

Nunieh said: “We want all Niger delta stakeholders to join hands in the re-orientation for a better environment and a non-violent Niger Delta.  With a clean and peaceful environment, investors will be interested to come to the region.”

She urged all Niger Deltans to support the efforts of the Federal Government to clean up Nigeria’s oil-rich region, assuring that NDDC would encourage the various communities to keep their villages and waterways clean.

The NDDC boss called on all Niger Delta stakeholders to join in the new movement to take the region to the next level, assuring that President Muhammadu Buhari was determined to give the NDDC a new face and a new lease of life.

She noted: “The President stands with us in the quest to turn things around for good in the Niger Delta. That is why he approved the setting up of the Interim Management Committee to ensure that the process of the forensic auditing of the NDDC was carried out properly.”

Nunieh stated that stakeholders in the region no longer had need to visit the NDDC to get things done because according to her, “our work will henceforth speak for us.”

She emphasised: “We want to take development to the rural communities and we want the Community Development Committees, CDCs, to become very active in rural development. Consequently, we have advised the youths that visit the NDDC to go back and wait for us in their communities because the water hyacinth contracts will henceforth be executed by communities through their CDCs.”

Nunieh said that the NDDC was going through a reformation process, which she observed went beyond the forensic auditing. She stated that the days of wastages were over, adding: “We must all put our hands on the deck to save the Niger Delta.”

Earlier in his remarks, the leader of the delegation from the Amayanabo of Okochiri, Comrade Opia Joshua Ojieh, said they came to identify with the Interim Management Committee of the NDDC.

He regretted that the NDDC, which was set up to fast-track the development of the Niger Delta region, had not lived up to the expectations of the people of the region.

Ojieh noted that the Commission was established as a result of the struggles of concerned Niger deltans. He, however, observed: “We are not satisfied with how the NDDC has been run in the past. That is why we support the position of President Buhari in setting up the Interim Management Committee.

“It is unfortunate that having stayed in the creeks for years to fight for the development of the Niger Delta, we are yet to realize our goals because of poor management of our collective resources by the previous administrations in the NDDC.”

Ojieh commended members of the IMC, describing them as men and women of integrity with good track record. He thanked the Federal Government for giving a listening ear to the cries of the Niger Delta people, stating: “We are looking forward to seeing the new face of the Niger Delta.”

NDDC suspends payment of N1Bn ‘agent fee’

The Acting Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Dr. Gbene Joi Nunieh, says the Commission has suspended the monthly payment of N1 billion to a consultant that collects money from International Oil Companies, IOCs, on its behalf.

Nunieh, who spoke in an interview with newsmen at the NDDC headquarters in Port Harcourt, emphasised that the Commission did not need middlemen to collect statutory funds due to it.

According to a statement by the commission, she said: “We have a consulting firm engaged as a collection agent. We have another company that also collects 3 per cent whenever money is paid by the International Oil Companies, IOCs.

“We don’t need a middle man to collect 3 per cent for gas. The money should just be paid into NDDC accounts with the CBN.”

Nunieh stated that political interferences were setting the Commission back, noting that her desk was overflowing with files waiting for payments, even from companies belonging to one individual. She asked: “How can someone have 87 companies waiting for payment?”

The NDDC Chief Executive Officer said that in spite of the political interferences, she was not going to compromise, stating: “That is why I have suspended the contract of a collection agent. We are no longer going to pay anyone N1 billion every month. That is wicked.

“That money can put mono pumps in rural communities in the Niger Delta. It can buy books and set up primary health centres. The three per cent for a consulting firm is over. That is why we are under pressure. But I laugh because those who live in glass houses should never throw stones.”

Nunieh called on Niger Deltans to stand up to protect their region. According to her, “what is happening is very embarrassing. We must all get up and know that these people have taken our commonwealth.”

The NDDC boss said that things were beginning to look up as many contractors have gone back to site since she mounted the saddle as the MD/CEO. “We have about 57 contractors that have gone back to site. I am encouraging everyone to go back to site so that things will be done properly. Those that actually execute their contracts will be paid,” she assured.

Addressing the issue of the legitimacy of the three-man Interim Management Committee, IMC, Dr Nunieh wondered why people were misconstruing the situation, observing that although the NDDC Act was silent on the matter of an Interim Management Committee, IMC, the President had the right to set up the body.

She said: “The NDDC Act is clear on the matter of the Commission’s chairmanship. It says that after Cross River State, Delta State is supposed to produce the Chairman of the NDDC board. If the Act says that after Cross River, Delta should produce the chairman, why would anyone say no?

“When the governors of the South-South states, led by Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State, visited President Muhammadu Buhari, he assured them that he would comply with the Act setting up the NDDC in taking decisions concerning the agency. He said that he would respect the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He also directed that a forensic audit be carried out from 2001 to date, stating that it was only after the audit that he would decide what to do with the Commission.”

Nunieh remarked that the NDDC would make sure that everything runs smoothly in the course of the forensic audit ordered by the President. Affirming that the audit would be deep and detailed, she said this explained the panic in certain quarters.

The Acting Managing Director stressed that her focus was on rural development. She explained: “We are trying to see how quickly we can get water to every village before long. We will try to see how we can use existing infrastructure to get water to the villages.

“No big contractors. Get the locals who are plumbers to get the mono-pumps to work. We are going to take development to the people and that is why you no longer see the young men hanging around our gates. We have asked them to go back to their communities and we will meet them there.”

Nunieh said that NDDC would encourage communities to set up cooperative societies to address peculiar challenges. She added: “We are going to give awards for the cleanest villages in the Niger Delta. We are going to see who has the cleanest water fronts. Everyone will take care of their water fronts and the Niger Delta will be green again.”

The NDDC boss promised that the Commission would carry out an epidemiological study in the Niger Delta to find out the prevalent sickness in the region and see what could be done.

She said: “Our people must be helped to stay alive and healthy. Look at the United Nation Environmental Project, UNEP, report which states that one in eight Ogonis would die of cancer. So, you can imagine the situation in other parts of the Niger Delta.”

President Buhari approves Interim Committee for NDDC

*Sends NDDC board list to Senate for confirmation

In line with his recent directive for a comprehensive audit of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), covering from 2001–2019 period, President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the appointment of an Interim Management Committee (IMC) to prepare for the audit.

They are: Dr. Gbene Joi Nunieh as Acting Managing Director; Dr. Cairo Ojougboh as Acting Executive Director, Projects, and Chief Ibanga Bassey Etang as Acting Executive Director, Finance and Administration.

The IMC was inaugurated by the Honourable Minister for Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, in Abuja on Tuesday.

The Inauguration of the new NDDC Board Members – whose names have been sent to the National Assembly for confirmation – will be put on hold until the forensic audit exercise is completed. The IMC will run the organization in the intervening period.

Meanwhile, the Senate on Tuesday started the process of confirming the appointments of nominees for the Board of the Niger Delta Development Commission, after President Buhari had sent NDDC board list to Senate for confirmation.

Senate President, Ahmad Lawan read a letter from President Buhari, announcing the 16-member board at plenary. Lawan asked the committee on Niger Delta to conclude the screening of the nominees and submit a report, within one week.

According to the letter from the President; the nominees include Dr. Pius Odubu, a former deputy governor of Edo State, who would serve as Chairman; while Bernard Okumagba from Delta State, would serve as Managing Director and Otobong Ndem from Akwa Ibom State was nominated as the Executive Director, Projects.

Others include, Maxwell Okoh from Bayelsa State; Jones Erue from Delta State; Victor Ekhatar from Edo State; and Joy Nunieh from Rivers State; Nwogu Nwogu from Abia State; Theodore Allison from Bayelsa State; Victor Antai from Akwa Ibom State; and Maurice Effiwatt from Cross River State.

Olugbenga Edema from Ondo State; Uchegbu Kyrian from Imo State; and Aisha Murtala Muhammed from Kano State representing North-West area on the board are also on the list.

The other names on the list are, Ardo Zubairu (Adamawa State), who will represent the North East; and Ambassador Abdullahi Bage (Nasarawa), who would represent the North Central geopolitical zone.

Niger Delta Governors are valued partners – NDDC

The Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, has described the governors of the nine Niger Delta States as critical stakeholders and partners in the development of the Niger Delta region.

The NDDC Director, Corporate Affairs, Mr. Charles Obi Odili, who spoke in an interview at the Commission’s Headquarters in Port Harcourt, noted that the governors of the Niger Delta states were strategic stakeholders and partners in the task of developing the oil-rich region.

According to a statement by the Commission, Odili said the governors play a key role in the process of building an egalitarian and development-oriented Niger Delta, “the kind of Niger Delta that we can all be proud to call our home.”

He said: “The governors form the Advisory Committee which is supposed meet from time to time to look at areas where they can intervene and advise management and board on the way forward.

“So, they are strategic partners in the process of building an egalitarian and a development-oriented Niger Delta region. The Governors of the region are very important and worthy stakeholders in the task of building the region.”

The NDDC Director also underlined the importance of another organ, the Partners for Sustainable Development (PSD) Forum, which he said was very critical to a coordinated response to the development challenges of the Niger Delta. He said that it was an avenue for the governors or their deputies or even representatives of their governments to liaise with the Commission for proper synergy.

Reacting to insinuations that the NDDC was often over-politicized,  Odili noted that the Commission was a political creation and as such could not be entirely divorced from political considerations.

On media reports which gave the impression that governors of Niger Delta states were instigating the probe of the Commission, Odili explained: “I did mention that the governors visited Mr. President and that the President as the father of the nation, reserves the right to look at the various components, because the Federal Government puts in so much money and would like to see what we are getting out of that effort. It is a welcome development that a probe is coming as a lot of things will come to the fore.”

He added: “The NDDC is over-burdened, being just an interventionist agency. Everybody feels some form of entitlement and the Commission cannot take on the entire gamut of regional expectations alone.”

Groups, CSOs back Buhari on forensic audit of NDDC

*President orders forensic audit of NDDC from 2001 to 2019

The state Chairmen of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the South-south and South-east regions have commended President Muhammadu Buhari over his directive for a forensic audit of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

They also called on the president to urgently inaugurate the new board to superintend over the Commission’s activities for a holistic review and reforms.

The Nation reported that the call and commendation by the chairmen were contained in two separate statements issued by Akwa-Ibom State APC Chairman, Hon. Ini T. Okopido, who is the leader of the South-south Chairmen of the forum, and his Abia State counterpart, Hon. Donatus Nwankpa, leader of South-east Chairmen of the forum respectively, which was made available to journalists in Benin-city

The forum expressed satisfaction on the calibre of those Buhari has already appointed to take over the task of the region’s development, and appealed for their inauguration to pilot the affairs and bring their wealth of experience to bear on the Commission.

The chairmen, while commending the president for his ‘love’ for the development of the Niger Delta region, assured him of their unflinching support to carry out his holistic reforms in the interventionist agency.

Similarly, civil society groups and concerned individuals on Thursday hailed President Muhammadu Buhari for directing that a forensic audit be conducted on the operations, programmes and activities of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

A development economist, Jeffrey Emerson, the executive director, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Auwwal Rafsanjani, and the president of Ijaw Diaspora Coalition, Johnson Ebibai, all said the directive was a step in the right direction, Premium Times reported.

“This is a good development, now that the President has finally responded to the concern by civil society and the demand for him to take action to stop the monumental corruption and outright stealing and diversion of public funds in these agencies meant to help the people and communities in the region,” Mr. Rafsanjani said on Friday.

It would be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari had ordered a forensic audit of the operations of the Niger Delta Development Commission from 2001 to 2019.

The decision followed persistent criticisms of the operations of the commission. A statement by the Special Adviser (Media and Publicity), Femi Adesina, said Buhari gave the directive after receiving governors of the states that make up the NCDC, led by Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State.

The President said what was presently on ground in the South-South region did not justify the huge resources that had been made available to the agency.

He said, “I try to follow the Act setting up these institutions especially the NDDC. With the amount of money that the Federal Government has religiously allocated to the NDDC, we will like to see the results on the ground; those that are responsible for that have to explain certain issues.

“The projects said to have been done must be verifiable. You just cannot say you spent so much billions and when the place is visited, one cannot see the structures that have been done. The consultants must also prove that they are competent.”

“I am acutely aware, with my experience, that projects in your area are very expensive; that is why if any job is given, we must make sure that the company is competent and has the capacity to do it well with experienced consultants”, the President said.

Buhari however said that he would wait for the report of the audit before deciding on the next line of action regarding the organisation.

Earlier, Dickson expressed the disappointment of other governors with the operations of the NDDC which, they said, was characterised by poor choice of projects, shoddy handling, uncompleted jobs and lack of the required support for the efforts of the states and local government administration in the region covered by the organisation.

He, therefore, called for the repositioning of the NDDC in order to achieve the objectives for which it was set up.