From Blessing Ibunge, Port Harcourt
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, said that despite the inauguration of the Advisory Council for the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), governors of oil producing states are still sidelined in the affairs of the intervention agency.
The governor said because the All Progressives Congress (APC) dictates what happens in the NDDC, the commission has been acting like a state government and so refusing to interface with the fovernors of the oil producing States to develop the Niger Delta region.
He made the claims when members of the House of Representatives Committee on NDDC led by its chairman, Hon (Dr.) Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, visited him at the Government House, Port Harcourt on Thursday.
Wike explained that contrary to the presumption that governors of the Niger Delta are critical stakeholders in the affairs of the NDDC, they are not in the true sense of it.
According to him, since the inauguration of the NDDC Advisory Council last year, the present federal government has ensured that the governors are sidelined in the affairs of the commission.
“Even when we are inaugurated, we were not involved in anything that happens in NDDC, Which is most unfortunate.
“NDDC is like a state on its own without working with the State government and why is it so. It is so because the states of NDDC are controlled by the opposition party, therefore there is no need to consult them”.
The governor explained that in a bid to ensure that NDDC does not embark on indiscriminate execution of projects that often distort the state developmental agenda, the Rivers State government recently obtained a court order that prohibits the commission from carrying out projects without the consent of the state government.
Governor Wike urged the National Assembly to be resolute in its oversight function by ensuring that the NDDC stops fretting away the resources meant for the development of the Niger Delta on building roads in Army barracks, police stations and spending billions of naira to ensure he did not win election.
The governor stated that NDDC and the Rivers State had once agreed to collaborate on a legacy project, but the commission allegedly ended up defrauding the state government
“NDDC fraudulently duped us over the Mother and Child Hospital. They had an agreement with the state government to build a regional hospital called Mother and Child Hospital. They agreed that it will be N1.7 billion; state government to bring N800 million, they will bring N900 million.
“State government at that time paid N800 million. NDDC mobilised the contractor with N400 million of the N800 million we brought and then abandoned the contractor and the contractor left the site.
“When we came on board, we said, we don’t want to partner with you again, refund our N400 million, it became a problem. Politics came in
“I want the best for my people. They have given me everything in life, so I owe them. It is not what I will make, they have already made me. So what do I offer back?”
He urged the National Assembly to ensure that planned amendment of the Electoral Act will usher in a new era of free and fair elections.
He insisted that, “there cannot be development without good governance. There cannot be good governance without the rule of law. Good governance without the rule of cannot work.”
Leaders of the delegation and chairman of the committee, Dr. Tunji- Ojo, explained that the purpose of the visit was predicated on the fact that Governor Wike is a principal stakeholder in the affairs of the NDDC.