By Odeya Ogbetuo
The national coordinator of the Oil Voice of the Niger Delta, Comrade Joseph Lamienghan has urged the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to fully implement the master plan designed to develop the Niger Delta region.
Comrade Lamienghan while addressing newsmen shortly after the executive meeting of the socio-political association in Warri said that the Forensic Audit Committee set up by the Federal Government of Nigeria has completed its assignment and submitted its reports to President Muhammadu Buhari awaiting implementation of the contents, adding that NDDC Management should settle down and implement the development plan for the region as the people are eagerly waiting for positive and meaningful development, the reason why the
Commission was established.
Comrade Lamienghan affirmed that the Master Plan remains one of the best governmental initiatives targeted at the oil-rich but obviously impoverished and environmentally degraded region of Nigeria.
He recalled that while launching the policy document in Abuja on 27th March 2000, President Olusegun Obasanjo said that the Master Plan whose implementation is to be carried out by the Niger Delta Development Commission offers opportunities for short, medium and long-term development in the Niger Delta.
While calling for the inauguration of the already screened NDDC Board members by the National Assembly, Comrade Lamienghan noted that during the formal inauguration of the Commission, Former President Obasanjo noted that NDDC was not created to take over the functions of the States and Local Governments in its areas of operation, but to accelerate the development of the neglected and deprivation suffered by the Niger Delta Region.
According to him “The master plan as a laudable step aimed at wresting the devastated region from the pangs of decades of administrative neglect despite as contributing billions of dollars to the national coffers from its vast oil and gas resources”.
He noted that the unconscionable neglect of the Niger Delta has, in turn, bred an upsurge in youth restiveness, disruption of oil firm’s activities by militant groups from time to time, resulting in colossal loss of revenue until amnesty was granted to the repentant militants in the region, stressing that this could not be compared to faceless negative insurgence by the dreaded Boko Haram terrorists.
Comrade Lamienghan pointed out that the Niger Delta case has assumed a drastic complication and it requires a drastic solution because since the establishment of the commission it has become a draining pipe where about 6 Trillion Naira allocated to the Commission were misappropriated, noting that there was no actual development on the ground.
He expressed disappointment over the non-execution of over 13,777 NDDC projects that were allegedly paid for, stressing that those who own those companies should be prosecuted by the Federal government.
The Oil Voice Coordinator recalled that the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) lamented the pervasive poverty in Nigeria’s oil-producing region and called for a participatory and people-centred approach to development thinking, planning and implementation as the key to rescuing the resource-rich region from the clutches of poverty.
Comrade Lamienghan clearly stated that “The Niger Delta is a region suffering from administrative neglect, crumbling social infrastructure and services, high unemployment, social deprivation, abject poverty, filth and squalor and endemic conflict, stressing that the group has been advocating for enhanced livelihood, improved physical and social infrastructure, equitable distribution of resources, good governance, effective management mechanism and better environmental management in the region.”