Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike has accused politicians of turning the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to a cash cow which they are milking.
From Mike Odiegwu, Port Harcourt
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.”.