A former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Chubudom Nwuche, has decried the backwardness of the oil-rich Niger Delta region, blaming it on the failure of the governors of the region to account for the funding accruing to it.
He also attributed the underdevelopment of the region to non-participation of the region in the ownership of the oil resource.
Mr. Nwuche said this in a statement released on Friday by his media aide, Blessing Oyagiri.
The Niger Delta region comprises Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo and Rivers States. Other oil producing states which are members of the Niger Delta Development Commission are Abia, Imo and Ondo.
Mr. Nwuche, an indigene of Rivers State, lamented that the problems of the region had remained even though one of its sons, Goodluck Jonathan, was president and while others occupied top political positions in the country.
He noted that the renewed agitation of the youth in the Niger Delta had highlighted many issues of continued marginalisation of the oil producing areas in spite of the 13% derivation fund that has accrued to the states since 1999.
“My colleagues and I in the 1999 National Assembly were instrumental in compelling the Federal Government to commence the implementation of the derivation formula, but our people have not seen commensurate development from those resources that should have transformed the Niger Delta region into mini-Dubai,” he said.
“Also, the lack of participation of the Niger Delta people in the ownership of oil blocs and involvement in oil services and the commanding heights of the oil and gas sector have been a disadvantage.”
“I commend the acknowledgement that we must also shoulder some of the blame for these problems as we failed to hold our governors accountable for the derivation fund.
“We also had our sons and daughters as both president, ministers and minister of petroleum and they could not address these problems or the other infrastructural challenges in the region.”
Mr. Nwuche hailed the recent dialogue between President Muhammadu Buhari and the indigenes of the Niger Delta under the leadership of Edwin Clark as a way of addressing the challenges in the region.
Stating that nothing could be gained from destruction and war, the former deputy speaker appealed to the youth of the region to lay down their arms and embrace peace while asking federal government to look into the problems confronting the region.
“I urge the current government to look into these problems in the interest of justice, equity and national cohesion. And dialogue is the right way to addressing these issues.”
On the recent legislative rerun election in Rivers State, Mr. Nwuche, who is a member of the All Progressives Congress, commended the Independent National Electoral Commission and the security agencies for outstanding performances during the exercise.
He said as opposed to the past, security agencies allowed the people of the state to exercise their franchise unmolested.
He said in the past there were instances where people were killed in some places, including Ahoada East and West LGAs, for voting for APC.
He condemned the murder of some policemen, including a deputy superintendent of police, during the election, describing the incident as “most unfortunate.”