By Obas Esiedesa
A report by Civil Society Organisation, We The People, has indicated that oil companies working with host communities through the Global Memorandum of Understanding have impacted positively in the development communities in the Niger Delta region than the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
Discussing the report which was conducted in 2019 at a virtual Masterclass organized by the Nigerian National Resource Chatter (NNRC), the National Coordinator of We The People, Mr. Ken Henshaw said across the oil rich region, the impact of the NDDC has been very minimal with over 10,000 abandoned project.
The research which was conducted against NNRC Precept 5 which deals with managing the impact of oil and gas operations on the host communities, found that several interventions by the government have not achieved the required goals.
The meeting held in the wake of several allegations of corruption running into billions of Naira at the NDDC.
Henshaw said of the NDDC: “What we have always known and what is indicated in the report is that NDDC as an institution has failed to live up to its mandates. Let us not forget that one of the core mandates of the NDDC is to ensure the rapid development of the Niger Delta region and to also report on the issues of the environment in the Niger Delta and the impact of oil and gas operation.
“In the 20 years of existence of the NDDC, it has failed woefully. In the course of our research communities which we spoke to and interviewed, consider the NDDC the lowest in terms of benefit transfer to communities.
“NDDC projects where they are located are called disposable projects. So NDDC projects are named after disposable cups and plates. Simply meaning that the instant those projects are commissioned, the next few weeks they go into dysfunction and are abandoned. They do not last.
“We now know that the NDDC has up to 10,000 abandoned projects littering everywhere in the landscape of the region. We have also become aware that the NDDC owe contractors to N2 trillion in debts. All these have limited its ability to actually transfer benefits to the people of the communities where oil is being extracted”.
Henshaw disclosed that both the Ministry of the Niger Delta Affairs and the revenue allocated through the 13% derivation to states have had limited or no impact at all at oil producing communities.
“It is important to note that the NDDC, the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs and the 13% derivation were all benefits transfer mechanisms that were created as a response to the agitation of the people of the Niger Delta region for a better deal and greater participation in the oil and gas industry.
“But unfortunately, these mechanisms have continued to fail to impact in any significant way in the lives of the people of the region”.
He noted that these failures have led to outbreak of violence periodically in the region.
He however stated that “Other systems of benefits transfer superintended by oil companies have showed that greater promise of actually transferring benefits to oil and gas communities.”
The report found out that the communities considered the GMOUs implemented jointly with the oil and gas companies to be more impactful than all Federal and state governments’ interventions.
He therefore called for the restructuring of the commission to make it more communities’ focused and removed from political influence and patronage.
In his remarks, a member of NNRC Advisory Panel, Dr. Ukiwo Ukoha said GMOUs are a good model to ensure a direct benefit transfer to host communities.