Niger Delta summits must produce fireworks• Elders demand for N3trn arrears from FG• Demand removal of NDDC from TSA• Accuse Obasanjo of dropping 7 out of 15 points that should have formed the NDDC Act in year 2000

Written by silvernewsng

Niger Delta Stakeholders

By Ignatius Chukwu

The organisers of the Niger Delta Stakeholders Forum knew that when Niger Deltans gather for any kind of meeting, there must be verbal fireworks and sparks.
That did not disappoint on Day One of the summit that began on Wednesday, July 10, 2024, at the Signature Event centre at the GRA 2.

The people immediately went into familiar mode despite appeals for toning down. They did but did not fail to point at hard facts which underline the relationship between the oil region and the centre.

The people pointed to the failure of the FG to remit the correct amount thus owing the NDDC over N3 trillion. They pointed to about seven points of demand that were dropped by the Olusegun Obasanjo administration in framing the NDDC Act. They asked for the Commission to be given free hand to spend its funds without the hindrances of the Single Treasury Account (TSA) which is also said to be hampering the Ogoni Clean Up.

The demand for over N3 trillion said to be owed by the Federal Government to the NDDC thus highlighted the opening day of the Niger Delta Stakeholders Summit. The FG is however said to have raised N1trillion to the NDDC.

The demand came from Prof Jasper Jumbo, a professor and spokesman of the elders of the region who were described as the founding members of the stakeholders for the creation of the Oil Mineral Producing Areas Development Commission (OMPADEC) and later the NDDC.

Jumbo also said the Act that set up the Commission left out seven key proposals for the setting of the Commission.

He said the FG began to owe the Commission from inception and still expects them to deliver.

He put the amount owed to over N3 trillion. He said the FG should be told to go and borrow from wherever they have been borrowing to defray the debt.

He said this is an appeal, not by violent agitation, but that the appeal is to get real peace.

He said FG should release the funds so the people will watch and see how this present management would fail to pay the contractors. He said the region is full of abandoned projects due to lack of funds.

He also demanded for three per cent of Value Added Tax (VAT) as he said is being given to the North East Development Commission.

Supporting the elders, the representative of Edwin Clark of the Pan Niger Delta Elders Forum (PANDEF) endorsed the present management and board.

He told the story of how the then president, Olusegun Obasanjo, refused to sign the bill leading to the National Assembly overriding the power of the president to pass it into law.

He said the stagnation of the NDDC is caused by fund failure by the FG and poor management.

He said regional projects cannot be executed because of lack of funds.

He called for review of the Act to bring in more sources of funds.

He called for end to putting the Commission into the Treasury Single Account (TSA) so the Commission can spend it’s funds swiftly.

The traditional rulers group demanded for return to the master plan saying the Commission has deviated. He regretted that most projects started decades ago have remained abandoned.

The fireworks came when Hon Gambo Tafawa Balewa, a National Assembly member from Bauchi, said to be the grandson of the first prime minister of Nigeria, Tafawa Balewa, stated that the funds of the Commission were being eaten raw but this is not the case anymore.

He promised that he and his colleagues would ensure speedy release of the 2024 budget of N1.9 trillion.

He admitted that peace in the Niger Delta is very important because if the oil region gets sick, Nigeria falls sick.

The managing director of the NDDC, Samuel Ogbuku (PhD), however revealed that the FG has already approved N1 trillion to handle definite projects.
He gave account of the progress in the region and measures put in place for transparent transformation as opposed to transaction.

The fireworks may fly more the next day when bigger personalities would be around.


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