The Prelate of the Methodist Church Nigeria, Dr. Samuel Uche, has urged the National Assembly to increase the funding of the Niger-Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to enable it impact positively on the lives of people of the Niger Delta region.
Dr. Uche spoke when he paid a courtesy visit to the NDDC Managing Director, Mr. Nsima Ekere at the Commission’s headquarters in Port Harcourt. He was accompanied by his wife, Nnemona Florence Uche, the Methodist Archbishop of Port Harcourt, Rev. Dr. Sunday Agwu and other priests.
The Prelate urged the National Assembly to appropriate enough funds for the NDDC to enable it carry out its mandate as an interventionist agency meant for the development of the Niger Delta.
Dr. Uche decried the deprivation in the Niger Delta region and called on the Federal Government to urgently address the problems of the area. He said: “The Niger Delta region is the goose that lays the golden egg. The wealth of this country comes from the Niger Delta, yet the people live in want and deprivation.”
He remarked that “we have enough for our needs but we don’t have enough for our greed,” adding that he would continue to advocate that more money should be given to the NDDC to enable it to discharge its mandate.
The Prelate noted that his visit to the NDDC was a good opportunity to pray for the leadership of the Commission so that they would continue to discharge their duties well and put smiles on the faces of the people of the region.
He added: “I pray that the management should succeed and I urge the directors to follow due process in all their actions. I am here to pay for NDDC that God’s presence will be in the commission.”
The NDDC Managing Director said that the Commission was set up by the Federal Government for the sole purpose of developing the region, stating that the visit of the Prelate would change the status of the NDDC for good. “You have brought the spirit of God to us,” he said.
Mr. Ekere said that the NDDC had a duty to provide infrastructure for the people. He declared: “While we are working on this, we also include some socio-economic programmes to teach our youths how to fish. We also need the church to pray for peace in the region, for without peace, we cannot operate successfully. Help us to appeal to our youths to give peace a chance because it is only in an atmosphere of peace that development can thrive. No investor can put his money in an environment that has no peace.”
The NDDC Chief Executive Officer regretted that many of the private sector operators had left the region because of insecurity. He cited the Dangote oil refinery being built in Lagos which he described as the biggest in the world. “This is unfortunate. If that refinery were to be built in the Niger Delta, imagine the number of jobs that would have been created. It would have impacted positively on the economy of the region,” he lamented.
He urged the Prelate to also advise Niger Deltans against spreading of false information to mislead the people. He deplored a situation where some projects being cited by the mischief makers as being abandoned or diverted to other areas were in fact projects that have been completed by NDDC.
He urged the mischief makers to allow the NDDC to execute its mandate, noting that the current board and management was doing its best to improve on the achievements of previous administrations in NDDC.
The NDDC boss reaffirmed the need for cooperation in the Niger Delta, stating: “We will work to promote cooperation, collaboration and synergy among stakeholders, such as state and local governments, oil and gas companies, donor agencies, civil society organisations, community-based organisations and other traditional institutions, in order to make regional development a shared vision and common aspiration.
Ekere said: “We articulated the 4-R initiative to add value to the process of the NDDC. The new initiative will structure our processes and make them transparent. It involves restructuring the balance sheet, reforming the governance protocols, restoring the Commission’s core mandate and reaffirming its commitment to doing what was right and proper.”
“We are using the bottom up approach where communities determine their needs to guide the NDDC. We are reducing the number of new projects, dedicating 70 per cent to servicing on-going projects and 30 per centfor new ones.”
He said that the NDDC had contingent liabilities of N1.8 trillion, which had forced it to reduce the number of new projects in the 2017 budget to enable the Commission complete on-going projects.