The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has commenced thorough internal reforms that will reposition the agency and properly empower it to implement its mandate as the foremost driving force in the development of the region.
Acting Administrator and Executive Secretary of the NDDC, Barrister Effiong Okon Akwa, who made this known in Abuja Tuesday, stated that the endless agitations in the Niger Delta came as a result of the long neglect of the area despite being the nation’s economic live-wire.
Barrister Effiong Okon spoke as the guest lecturer at the Department of History and Diplomatic Studies, University of Abuja Fourth Democracy Lecture Series organised by the institution to enlighten the public on aspects of nation building that requires improvement.
The administrator, who spoke on “the role of the NDDC in national development,” stated that many factors were responsible for the underdevelopment of the Niger Delta region despite being an oil producing area.
He listed the factors militating against development as political, economic, administrative, cultural, educational and social issues like the restiveness of the youth population that comes from a feeling of marginalisation.
Even now, he said, many communities in the Niger Delta region live below the accepted international poverty line while infrastructural development has remained in its infantile stages with many abandoned projects in the area despite the billions of naira harnessed from the region through its national resources.
He then commended the ongoing probe of the NDDC stating that the forensic audit aims at repositioning the commission to meet the needs and demands of oil producing communities, adding that the recent sustained media campaigns against the NDDC, which led to the forensic audit happened because of poor public enlightenment on the activities of the commission which, he said, has positively impacted on the region.
In his opening remarks, the Vice Chancellor, University of Abuja, Professor Abdulrasheed Na’Allah stated that the university restarted the lecture series to help provide solutions to the teething problems fundamental to the growth of the nation such as why development has eluded Nigeria even after experimenting with several systems of government and after attaining independence for almost 60 years.
He said the NDDC was chosen to feature in the current lecture series to enable officials throw some light on the numerous controversies dogging the commission and efforts to reposition it for greater productivity to serve the nation better.
Several scholars, politicians, students and chieftains of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) graced the occasion.