Politicians have turned NDDC to cash cow, says Wike
spent N10 billion to prevent him from being reelected in 2019
Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike has accused politicians of turning the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to a cash cow which they are milking.
He called for the extension of the ongoing probe of the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the commission to previous managements.
The governor also alleged that the agency spent N10 billion to prevent him from being reelected in 2019. Wike spoke on Tuesday on a television programme.
Also on Tuesday, the NDDC promised to pay before Sunday, the tuition of Niger Delta students studying abroad as directed by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Although Wike acknowledged that he was not in a position to suggest to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) how to run the NDDC, he pointed out that the involvement of politicians in the running of the intervention agency would continue to be counter-productive.
He said: “I have said it before and it is very clear; my concern is, everyone knows that the NDDC was set up for the development of the region. Unfortunately, they have turned it into a different thing. NDDC is a cash cow for politicians.
“When they are talking about probing the IMC, I say why only the IMC? During my own re-election period, the NDDC brought N10 bilion cash to fight against us.”
Wike, who did not elaborate on his allegation, faulted the method adopted by the NDDC in project execution, saying he had once taken its management to court for failing to consult with the state government before executing projects in his state.
He added: “NDDC cannot go to a state and begin to carry out projects without the permission of the state government. You don’t know what our plans are. You go to a school, the state government owns the school, you begin to go and put up structure, you don’t know the plans of the state government.
“We don’t know what the NDDC is doing. They are just fighting themselves. We don’t have any power. If not we ought to have regional projects.
“The point remains that why can’t we move politicians out of NDDC? If they are talking about developing a place why can’t they say okay no more politicians? Why can’t we bring technocrats? Like I said every politician wants to control the NDDC.”
The commission assured that payment of fees and stipends of stranded scholarship students abroad would be done before the end of this week.
A statement by its Director, Corporate Affairs, Charles Odili, said Buhari directed the payment in a memo to the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio.
It explained that the delay of the payment was caused by the death of Chief Ibanga Etang, the then acting executive director, Finance and Administration of the commission in May.
The statement said: “Under the commission’s finance protocol, only the Executive Director (Finance) and the Executive Director (Projects) can sign for the release of funds from the commission’s domiciliary accounts with the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN.
“With the death of Chief Etang, the remittance had to await the appointment of a new EDFA. Senator Akpabio, the Honourable Minister, said President Buhari who was briefed on the protest by students at the Nigerian High Commission in London, ordered that all steps be taken to pay the students by the end of this week. We expect a new EDFA to be appointed this week. As soon as that is done, they would all be paid.”
The NDDC has however extended an invitation to Buhari to inaugurate the 29-kilometre Ogbia-Nembe Road in Bayelsa State..
It stated that the N24 billion road was built in conjunction with the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) to create a land link to the ancient city of Nembe for the first time.
The road with 10 bridges and 99 culverts passes through swampy terrain to connect 14 other communities.
But some Niger Delta activists faulted the NDDC invitation to Buhari, saying it was a ploy to deceive and “rob him in the mud corruption.”.
The activists, under the auspices of the Niger Delta Rights Advocates (NDRA), said the road was constructed by the erstwhile management of NDDC.
Its spokesperson Darlinghton Nwauju, said: “Whereas there are a plethora of uncompleted and abandoned projects which the IMC could lay hands on to deliver to the people of the region, including the headquarters project which the Prof. Pondei team had made so much media noise about, the NDRA considers the attempt by the team as a ploy to dig into their bag of tricks to continue to put the people of the region in a state of confusion while it continues in its sharing bazaar.
The Ijaw Youths Council (IYC) Worldwide had claimed that the non- payment of students fees constituted a fresh threat to the fragile peace in the Niger Delta.
The IYC President, Peter Igbifa, said the youth of the region were agitated to see their kinsmen carrying placards abroad to protest their neglect by the NDDC and the Federal Government.
He said: “This is not the time to shift blames. The youth in the region are already angry and they don’t want to listen to any blame games. They don’t want the Federal Government to blame the NDDC and they don’t want the NDDC to blame the National Assembly or the Coronavirus pandemic. What they are expecting is an end to this shame.”