By Ignatius Chukwu
Traditional rulers in the Niger Delta have been enjoined to join the fight to end crude oil theft. This will help to boost oil revenue what comes to each kingdom in terms of development projects.
This was dropped to the monarchs at the Rivers State Traditional Council headquarters by the executive director for Finance and Administration (EDFA) of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Alabo Boma Iyaye.
The EDFA said they can do this by helping the Federal Government and security agencies in curbing oil theft and pipeline vandalism in their domains.
Alabo Iyaye made the appeal during an interactive session with the monarchs at their headquarters in Port Harcourt.
He urged the monarchs to play a key role in checking the activities of oil thieves, stating: “We need the traditional institution to assist the government and the security agencies to protect our oil assets. Your majesties, you have very big roles to play to protect our oil assets and projects in the state. If there is no oil theft, there will be more allocation for the Niger Delta. I urge you all to try as much as you can to protect our resources and stop economic sabotage in our region.”
Alabo Iyaye acknowledged the importance of traditional institutions, stating: “We recognise the importance of the traditional rulers. Addressing this council today is a great privilege. It is like addressing the entire Rivers State through traditional rulers, representing the 23 Local Government Areas of the state.”
The NDDC Executive Director noted: “Rivers State is one of the major oil producers in Nigeria, contributing about 33 per cent of the oil revenue of the country. No government can afford to disregard the state.
“I want to assure you that 2024 will be a better year for all of us. The NDDC Board will meet with you again at the appropriate time to exchange ideas. The National Assembly has approved over N300 billion in the budget for the Niger Delta and the NDDC board will deploy the money for development projects in the various states.
In his remarks, the Rivers State Representative on the Board of NDDC, Chief Tony Okocha, affirmed: “The NDDC has had a negative trajectory over the years but we assure you that this new NDDC, through the initiatives of the current board, will bring positive change. We have started the process of change which conforms with President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s Renewed Hope Agenda. This interactive session is an indication that we have set the ball is rolling.”
Okocha lamented that Rivers state had about 953 uncompleted projects, noting that the interaction would help to find out what happened. He asked: “Why were the projects abandoned? One of the reasons is the frequent change in the NDDC leadership. The issue of non-payments of contractors is also part of the problem.”
He said that the NDDC would step up its efforts in developing human capital, even as it builds more infrastructure in the Niger Delta region, adding: “Human capital development has more advantages than infrastructural development. Even though they complement each other.”
The chairman of Rivers State Council of Traditional Rulers and Paramount Ruler of Emohua kingdom, Nyeweli Ohna Sergeant Awuse, noted that the interactive session was a welcome development from the NDDC. He noted that the gesture was a sign of respect for the traditional institution.
Awuse said further: “We are elated and appreciative of the move to meet the leadership of traditional institution in Rivers State. The NDDC has had so many problems in the past but change has come. I thank Mr. President for what he is doing, a quick glance at the Board of the NDDC shows that the members were carefully selected.”
“This is the first time that the NDDC is reaching out to the Rivers State Council of Traditional Rulers for an interactive session. We are not taking this gesture for granted and we will give them our support and pray they discharge their duties well for the Niger Delta region.”