The president inaugurated a new board for the NDDC.
President Goodluck Jonathan has directed the new board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) not to commence any new projects in the region until all the ongoing ones are completed.
Mr. Jonathan said this while inaugurating the board of the commission at the Council Chambers of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
“A body like NDDC should not just go into a voyage of contracts procurement but ongoing projects must be completed for people to benefit before new ones are awarded,” Mr. Jonathan said. “There are just too many ongoing projects and we believe that you don’t even have enough manpower to manage the ongoing projects.”
The president also hinted at financial impropriety by previous managements of the NDDC, saying, “If you aggregate the total amount of money the Federal Government has spent on this agency, (it) is enormous. And I don’t believe on ground that we have something to show.”
Mr. Jonathan charged the board members to be transparent in their operations, stating that with the new freedom of information law, Nigerians will throw their searchlight on the NDDC.
The President urged them not to tread the path of the former board who were always quarrelling rather than focusing on developing the region.
“The former board at a time had to be dissolved because instead of the board to work with the management to make sure that people from the area benefit from the NDDC, they were busy quarrelling over money.
“The money does not belong to the board members and staff, the money belongs to the people yet they were quarrelling. If the money that belongs to the people is being spent the way it should they will be no reason why people should quarrel,” he said.
Mr. Jonathan added that “there are guidelines in terms of procurement and managing of funds and if the MD or ED is doing things contrary to expectations there are lines of reporting, there are lines of authority and I will expect you to follow. I don’t expect you to go and start quarrelling. I expect you to be committed both the board and the management so as to ensure that the people from the area benefit from the resources.”
The president also urged governors of Niger Delta states to meet regularly to make sure they also play their role regularly in terms of overseeing what is happening in the NDDC.
He charged the new board of the commission to be prudent and efficient in its operations so as not to ridicule the presidency.
“Everything done by government body, the blame, if wrongly done is on the head of the president. If you do badly, it is Jonathan that is probably using NDDC funds for election campaigns, that is what people will say.
“I will really look at your activities clinically, and I will not accept any aberration from the conventional and acceptable way of managing resources of the people,” he said.
Speaking on behalf of the board, its Chairman, Bassey Ewa-Henshaw, thanked the President for finding them worthy for the assignment.
He noted that the board was aware of the criticisms trailing the commission’s performance and was prepared to do its best to change its image before the Nigerian people.
“By adopting a fresh approach and forging a new direction and focus we hope to create a new more positive image for the commission,” he said. “We believe that the NDDC can become the veritable vehicle for it is intended to be for the upliftment of the people of the Niger Delta, a vehicle by which their situation can be transformed from one of deprivation to one of prosperity and hope.”
The former senator added that the new board we will “focus on major infrastructural developments that will open up and integrate the sub-region.”
“Our projects and programmes will target wealth creation and employment generation especially for the youth of the area. And we will work assiduously to infuse good governance, transparency and efficiency into all facets of the commissions operations,” he said.
Mr. Ewa-Henshaw asked that the President be ready to lend his ears “when we come to seek your support and guidance during challenges, which we know will come”.
Speaking to journalists after the inauguration ceremony, the Managing Director of the NDDC, Bassey Dan-Abia, noted that the board had learnt its lesson and will ensure all problems are resolved as a team.
“We will not see it as my papa thing where you struggle over who should take head or the tail, we are not sharing, we are building, creating,” he said. “We will engage the youth, the days of new voucher or coupon is over. We will accelerate sustainable development in the region. There will always be business but not business as usual.”
Members of the new board include Mr. Ewa-Henshaw (Chairman), Mr. Dan-Abia (Managing Director), Itotenaan Ogiri (ED, Finance and Administration), Tuoyo Omatsulu (ED Projects) from Akwa Ibom and Rivers States, respectively.
Others are Ball Oyarede (Bayelsa), Ephraim Etete (Rivers), Etim Inyang Jnr. (Akwa Ibom), Adah Andeshi (Cross River), Tom Amioku (Delta), Samuel Nwogu (Abia), Uchegbu Chidiebere Kyrian (Imo).
Others are Suleiman Sa’d (North-Central), Abdumalik Mahmud (North-East), Enikuomehin Olorungbonju (Ondo) and Mark Ward (Oil Producers Trade Section, OPTS).
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