… Says the region’s money was squandered in Abuja, Dubai, USA, others
… Vows to address injustice
The President of the Governing Board of the Niger Delta Development Commission, Lauretta Onochie, has denounced the level of underdevelopment in the Niger Delta area despite the huge funds allocated to the interventionist agency over the years. .
She said the NDDC was a disgrace to the region and the country as a whole, noting that money earmarked for development of the crude oil and gas-rich area was being diverted to Abuja, Lagos and abroad, while people from the region lives in misery and abject poverty.
Onochie made this statement shortly after taking office in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, following the handover by former NDDC interim managing director Emmanuel Audu-Ohwavborua, at the commission’s headquarters on Thursday.
She said: “Today is a historic day, not only for the people of the Niger Delta, but also for the women of Nigeria. And being a historic day, we have a lot going on today. Let me remind us why we are here.
“This organization (NDDC) was commissioned specifically for the people of the Niger Delta. It is an interventionist agency that is supposed to bring prosperity; it is supposed to bring development to our region. This organization was created in the year 2000. And, if you tour the Niger Delta to date, there is little to nothing to show for it. NDDC has been an embarrassment to the Niger Delta and an embarrassment to our nation.”
Onochie, however, said the administration led by President Major General Muhammadu Buhari (ret.) was determined and has shown commitment to turning things around since he took office more than seven years ago.
The former presidential aide said: “As I said yesterday, at our inauguration, he (Buhari) never does things for his own interest. Everything he does, he does in the interest of Nigerians. And this board that you see here represents that interest.
“We are here to reposition NDDC. We are here to serve the people of the Niger Delta and by extension the people of Nigeria. We are here to do things differently. When I came back from the diaspora in 2014 to join his (Buhari) campaign, what I heard everywhere was ‘this is not how we do it here. Madam, this is not London; this is not the UK’.
“We are here to do things differently. We came up with ideas and I think each and every one of you sitting here has great, beautiful ideas. If you have gotten lost in the system of doing things the way they used to be done, please dust them off and throw them away. We have new ideas and we welcome the same new ideas from you.”
He went on to say: “We are going to improve the work environment because if you are not happy where you work, those of us at the top are not going to have your 100 percent. You have 100 percent to give, but we demand 110 percent.
“From what we gathered, there is a lot of politics here, not only here, but also in the ministries. We will not tolerate that. For 20 years, money spent in this region found its way to Abuja, Lagos, Dubai, London, the United States, and everywhere except the Niger Delta.
“And when the president or the government tries to put things right, they use some of the money to mobilize those very people they have put under their command to protest what the government is doing on their behalf.
“The time has come to say stop. Let us serve the Niger Delta. I think there are some here who are where they should not be. There are some who are not where they should be. All the injustices that we have seen in this Niger Delta, we will correct them.”
Earlier, the new Managing Director/CEO of NDDC, Dr. Samuel Ogbuku, said that management has not come to witch hunt, no one.
He said: “I want, first of all, to assure you that we should not make enemies with anyone. We are here to rely on your experience as well. NDDC management needs experience. We need your support; we need your cooperation.
“We are not here as a party delivering a party. We are not here to fight with anyone. We are all people from the Niger Delta. I want all of you to be assured that, based on your competence, you will work with this administration.”
Although he pointed out that the new management will make an evaluation of what he learned on the ground, as well as study the recommendations made by his predecessor.
Ogbuku added: “We are definitely not going to see mediocrity. Everything has to be based on your competition. If you show ingenuity, you have a chance to work with us.
“Everyone out there believes that NDDC has failed. So, you are stigmatized as part of the failure. I’m saying what people are saying. It may not be a fact, it could just be an assumption.
“But, the work of the staff here seems to have a certain level of stigma. I do not blame you; perhaps, it has not been given the enabling environment. I think everyone here has a lot of experience, they are well trained to give the best to the people of the Niger Delta.”