NDDC Board Inherits N1tr Liabilities | Independent Newspapers Limited
Newsletter subscribe


NDDC Board Inherits N1tr Liabilities

Posted: Jul 9, 2015 at 7:39 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Igoniko Oduma, Yenagoa


The board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has said that it inherited liabilities in excess of N1trillion from the previous board.

Chairman of the board, Bassey Ewa-Henshaw, disclosed this on Thursday when he led a delegation of the commission’s board members to pay a courtesy visit on Bayelsa State governor, Seriake Dickson, at Government House, Yenagoa.

Former President Goodluck Jonathan inaugurated the Ewa-Henshaw-led NDDC board in December 2013.

Members of the board are Managing Director, Bassey Dan-Abia, Executive Director (Finance and Administration), Itotenaan Ogiri (Rivers), and Executive Director (Projects), Tuoyo Omatsuli (Delta).

Also on the board are Turofade Oyarede (Bayelsa), Ephraim Sobere Etete (Rivers), Etim Inyang Jnr. (Akwa Ibom), Adah Andeshi (Cross River), and Tom Amioku (Delta).

The other members are Samuel Nwogu (Abia), Uchegbu Kyrian (Imo), Maj-Gen Suleiman Said (Niger, North-Central) and Abdumalik Mahmud (Bauchi, North-East).

Edo and Ondo states and the North-West were yet to be represented on the board.

Ewa-Henshaw said his board also inherited 7,000 projects that it has been striving to complete in the last year.

He identified poor funding as the major challenge impeding the progress of the interventionist agency in resolving the issues of underdevelopment in the Niger Delta region.

According to him, the Federal Government had held back funds to the commission in excess of N800 billion since 2001.

Ewa-Henshaw listed inadequate release of budgeted funds, contrary to Section 14 (2a) and (2c) of the NDDC Act, as other challenges holding down the commission.

“The funding for NDDC remains a major challenge and obstacle to the progress that we could have made. For example, since 2001, funds held back by the Federal Government are now in excess of N800 billion underpayment,” he said.

The commission’s boss explained that the NDDC Act requires the Federal Government to provide 15 per cent of monies paid from the Federation Account, but the commission had never got its fair share of funding since inception.

He told Dickson that the leadership of the NDDC was in the state to seek advice on the way forward, as it would require support in providing strategic intervention in the areas of power, roads, rail and education, and create business opportunities for the people of the region.

In his remarks, Dickson appealed to the Federal Government to adequately fund the NDDC, and accord states in the region special attention, especially Bayelsa, given its challenging terrain, which he noted required huge funds and efforts to develop.

The governor observed that poor funding of the commission had limited its ability to execute infrastructure such as airport, major roads and bridges that would impact on the well-being of the people, rather than award contracts for the construction of classroom blocks.

“The Niger Delta is an endangered region, even the colonial masters, before they granted independence to Nigeria, recognised the existence of this region as a special area and designated it so.

“And they were aware that the developmental challenges of this area are more than that of the challenges of most other parts of the country. The challenges are ecological and environmental and that realisation should affect the release of funds by the federal authorities.

“I think that the governors will meet to see how we can work with you to ensure that the provisions of the NDDC Act are enforced.

“The purpose of establishing the NDDC will be defeated if it is not in a position to undertake critical development projects in the Niger Delta,” he said.

Dickson also expressed displeasure over the a number of NDDC projects in the state yet to be completed, saying that his administration had earlier empanelled a committee with a view to collating and monitoring the progress of all ongoing NDDC projects in the state.

He called for collaboration between the governors of Niger Delta states towards embarking on regional projects to expand the scope of development in the region.