By Ibrahim Mustapha Pambegua
The allegation of corruption that engulfed the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) is sickening and condemnable. The Agency was established in the last two decades by Obasanjo administration to address the infrastructural challenges or deficit of the oil producing communities.
It is estimated and reported that,since the commission came on board in the last twenty years,over 4 trillions naira were voted to it. Sadly,the trending news that continues to emerge from the region paints a gloomy picture of the worsening condition of the living in the area. It has shown,there is no corresponding improvement in the standard of living of people in the region.
The house of representative committee of NDDC which conducted an investigating hearing recently raised an alarm over the mismanagement of over 40billion by the interim management committee(IMC) led by keme pondei. Prior to the professor Keme Pondei allegation of financial infractions or corruption,the ex- interim MD of the agency,Joy Nunieh, was also accused of financial embezzlement to the tune of 22 billions.
However,Nunieh denied any wrong doing but blamed the minister of Niger Delta affairs,Godwins Akpabio,as the culprit or master mind of the dirties corruption bedevil the commission. Whether her accusations are truth or not depends on the house of representative committee’s on NDDC final report.
With the shocking discovery of financial Mis-management in the NDDC many Nigerians thought that,the Niger-delta activists,warriors and stakeholders will stage a protest to register their displeasure or condemn the actions of some few bad elements in the region who continue to parade themselves as leaders and milk the resources of the region dry. Unfortunately,since the revelation of outright theft in NDDC by Akpabio and his accomplices there is deepening silence in the Niger-Delta.
Does the deepening silence suggest an endorsement or hypocrisy from the impoverished region? Niger-Delta is the proverbial hen that lays the golden egg. The bulk of the country’s resources come from the area. While it is truth the region contributes higher percentage of revenue to the country,the fiscal federalism which deals with revenue sharing also favours the oil producing states.
Think about the monthly financial allocation,the 13% derivation,the NDDC,Ministry of Niger-Delta and royalties from the oil companies. The huge amount of resources or revenues coming from these sources debunk the erroneous claims that,the region is cash starve. If the resources generated from the region are judiciously utilised,Niger-Delta would have become an el dorado of all sorts.
However,in spite of its revenues vantage position,Niger-delta is synonym to poverty,militancy and environmental degradation due to poor leadership. Since the discovery of oil in the early 50’s,there have constant revenue agitation from oil producing states which led to series of constitutional amendment to ensure equitable distribution of resources.
Nonetheless,the huge amount of funds running into trillions of naira collected by the Niger-Delta region have been mismanaged or squandered by some of their greedy leaders. Of equally mentioning is how these corrupt leaders and their paid acolytes or co travellers continue to apportion blames to other people for their self-inflicted woes.
It is high time the Niger-Delta activists broke silence,raised their voices in unison and called for the transference and accountability in the Management of resources allocated or generated by the region. The lid has been blown and this is not the right time to play the ostrich game pretending all is well. The problems of the region is corruption. Unless concerted efforts are put in place and leaders are held accountable,the region would remain backward in the next thousand of years. God forbid!
BY:IBRAHIM MUSTAPHA PAMBEGUA, KADUNA STATE.