Vow to continue with planned protests until the President acts
A coalition of thirty civil society organisations drawn across the Niger Delta region has called on the federal government, multinational oil companies and development partners to discontinue any form of funding to the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) as a result of what they described as massive corruption and pervasive culture of looting in the Commission.
This was disclosed to stakeholders after an emergency review meeting convened by the leadership of the group drawn from nine Niger delta states in Port Harcourt yesterday.
In a communique, the groups expressed deep disappointment at the level of alleged corruption perpetrated by the Interim Management Committee led by Prof. Kemebradikumo Pondei.
The group wondered why the IMC has not yet been sacked despite the revelations of high level squandermania, fraud and mindless diversion of resources meant for the development of the region that have already been uncovered.
They vowed to mobilize stakeholders across the region to continue with planned protests next week until the federal government will be forced to harken to the wishes of the people to sack the IMC.
Addressing stakeholders after the meeting under the auspices of Coalition for Sustainable Development in the Niger Delta (COSADNA), National Coordinator of the group, Prince Kakas Amgbare appealed to President Buhari to urgently look into the plight and lamentations of the Niger Delta people by appointing more competent people into the NDDC.
According to him “ We have been holding extensive consultations across the region in the last two weeks. The broad consensus from stakeholders is that the current Interim Management Committee (IMC) of NDDC has lost credibility and should be replaced immediately. Our people are highly embarrassed by the revelations coming of NDDC. Most especially, this is the first time that a very incompetent person who has no relevant qualification is holding sway as Director of Projects.
“We ask President Buhari to sack Mr. Cairo Ojougboh, who lacks the requisite experience and background to hold such a sensitive position. As someone who does not come from an oil producing community, he is incapable of feeling the urgency of development deficit amongst us.
“Today there are many abandoned projects across the region. Many of them can be completed and commissioned with very little additional investment. However, Cairo Ojougboh does not have what it takes and leaving him to continue to such a position will come at the huge negative cost.”
Prince Kakas, who is a foremost activist, chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and one of the founding members of Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) lamented that the current IMC have misrepresented Buhari administration and the APC led federal in the region due to the poor performance of the NDDC.
According to him “ as a political party, APC is losing ground every day. The general negative perception of the Buhari administration in the Niger Delta is partly due to the woeful performance of NDDC. As a development interventionist agency, what many people feel here is that if NDDC is failing then the President should be blamed.
“As a coalition that believes in the rule of law, we are confident that the President will do the needful. However, until that is done we will continue our planned mass action and protests. We call on all well-meaning activists, youth groups, women leaders to await further instructions about the plan. President Buhari should reverse this trend before it becomes too late”
Speaking on the same issue, the Secretary and Spokesperson of the Coalition, Dr. Wilson Bassey and Chief Uche Emmanuel jointly called on all multinational oil companies to discontinue their remittances to the NDDC until the current IMC is sacked.
“We call on the international and indigenous oil companies to stop any further statutory remittances to the NDDC until the IMC is sacked. This is because stakeholders have lost confidence in them and no one can guarantee that the monies will not be looted again as the culture of impunity persists. There are already too many shady deals that have completed eroded the confidence of stakeholders on the IMC especially the ones masterminded that Dr. Cairo Ojougboh and his cronies.”
Recall that since the revelations during the probe of NDDC activities by the National Assembly, many observers both within and outside the region has been outraged at the level of mind-boggling diversion and waste of public resources meant for the development of the region that produces the oil and gas that funds Nigeria’s economy.
“This is not the first time a coalition has openly expressed displeasure about the activities of NDDC in the media. Many leaders of thought insist that the current NDDC leadership are bent on taking care of their private pockets rather than attend to the development needs of the people. There frustration and anger among many stakeholders.
“There are fears that if nothing is done urgently to address their concerns, some of the groups especially the youth leaders may decide to take steps that are capable of destabilising the peace in the region with potential dire consequences on the economy. Several calls were placed to the numbers provided for the Acting Managing Director Prof. Pondei and the Acting Director of Projects, Mr. Cairo Ojougboh were not answered.”