Foundation for Environmental Rights Advocacy and Development, FENRAD, a pro-democracy and environmental rights advocacy group commends the federal government for ordering a forensic audit of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC operations and transactions, which report revealed how trillions (in naira) had been given to the intervention agency – both as budgetary and other statutory transfers – since 2001-2018/19 with no significant impact in the concerned regions.
NNDC, which replaced Oil Mineral Producing Areas Development Commission, OMPADEC was established to carter to the socioeconomic needs and general welfare of the oil-bearing communities which span nine states of Abia, Bayelsa, Cross River, Edo, Imo, Ondo, Rivers and Akwa Ibom in Nigeria’s south. Per the facts made available in the presidential forensic report, the Commission had, since creation received ₦6 trillion and yet has not channeled the said fund into development projects as its name implies – “Development Commission”!
FENRAD condemns the fact that, from facts recently made available, the Commission operates 362 different bank accounts; has 13,777 abandoned projects; paid over 90% of mobilisation fee to contractors who as much never began or completed works for which monies were disbursed; has over 90% substandard completed projects, and so many others. These and more were happening shortly after the Commission informed Nigerians that, for palliative, they used ₦1.5 billion “to take care of” themselves at the heat of the pandemic. FENRAD, as an environmental rights advocacy group, laments the sorry state of the oil-rich communities where environmental concerns such as degradation and depletion, and as well as other ecological disasters have been meted out on the communities with no benefit in return. Schools and infrastructure are far from available within the region where trillions had been sunk into. Water is not potable, roads are not accessible, life is not liveable; all in the Niger Delta for which development NDDC was created. This, FENRAD says, likens to the proverbial dog that ate the bone hung on its neck, a marginalisation of the people by those appointed to the Commission’s board to manage the commonwealth. More saddening is the fact that, for the most part, the elite impoverishing the people are from the same region as those they impoverish – compradors within!
FENRAD, having sighted and studied online releases detailing the audit, urges the federal government to go one better this time with prosecution of those named in the shady deals. This, FENRAD urges, should not linger or go the way the National Assembly’s hearing of the former Commission’s managing director, Prof. Daniel Pondei’s went. This is an integrity test for the APC-led federal government with Nigerians watching, FENRAD believes.
Let all board members and managing directors, as well as higher-ups of the Commission from 2001-18 answer to any charge(s) where necessary, bar none! Also, everything regarding procurement and contracts – whether it affects political heavyweights or not – must be made public to the last kobo. This is how FENRAD wants justice served in this matter. This is how the Foundation thinks it should be.
Comrade Nelson Nnanna Nwafor
FENRAD Executive Director