Says NCDMB deviating from mandate
Warns that Niger Delta might be abandoned like Enugu
By Michael Eboh
Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta, Senator Ita Enang, Thursday, accused the governors of the Niger Delta states of been unkind to the region and to oil-producing states.
Speaking at a webinar on ‘Resolving the Host Communities Question’, organised by Orderpaper in partnership with the House of Representatives’ Committee on Niger Delta and the Nigeria Natural Resource Charter, NNRC, Enang also indicted the governors of misappropriating the 13 per cent derivation fund.
He also appealed to the relevant committees of the National Assembly to call the management of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board, NCDMB, to order, stating that the agency is veering off its purpose of promoting local content among oil-producing communities.
Enang said: “The Governors have not been kind to the Niger Delta, and I want to pray that the National Assembly amend the Niger Delta Development Commission Act, as well as amend the constitution so that the 13 per cent derivation does not go to the governors; it should go to the host communities and targeted at the development of these communities.
“This is because the governors used the 13 per cent derivation to buy aircraft and used the money to develop and build many houses and these monies are found in Banana Island and foreign countries. Let us find a legislative means whereby these monies can be used for the development of the communities.”
The president’s aide further warned that the Niger Delta might receive similar treatment meted out to Enugu State if an attempt is not made to develop oil-producing areas.
He said: “If we do not take care, the Niger Delta would be given the same treatment that Enugu was given. When oil ceases to be important, when solar energy and other alternative energy sources are exploited to the fullest, we would be looking for who to pay to come and rid our area of oil pollution.
“See what has happened to Enugu; it has been abandoned now by Nigeria. It was the state where coal was taken to power our locomotives and energy; but today, Enugu is suffering from erosion, suffering from ecological challenges.”
Concerning the NCDMB, Enang maintained that the application of the NCDMB Act should be clearly examined and monitored to ensure that the Board do not continue to act outside its purpose and mandate.
“I want the legislators to look at the application of the Local Content Act because the NCDMB is now focusing on big capital projects instead of looking at the local communities in every oil areas. Let the committee on the Niger Delta look at the NCDMB ACT and the NCDMB, headed by Simbi Wabote; it is almost veering out of purpose; it is not working for the development or management of local content in oil-producing areas. Let it return to the mandate for which it was created,” he argued.
He also accused oil companies of fuelling conflict in the Niger Delta and contributing to impoverishing people of the region, while they continue to explore for crude oil and gas unhindered in the region.
In his response, Speaker, House of Representative, Femi Gbajabiamila, noted that the Niger Delta region has contributed significantly to the country and would not be allowed to remain in a state of shambles.
According to him, the House would find a sustainable solution for the region through legislative actions, noting that the lawmakers are currently looking to address the loopholes in NDDC while taking proactive steps through the PIB.
He insisted that unless cooperative actions were taken, especially beyond blame games, the development of the region may remain a mirage, adding that the country must resolve political differences bedevilling the development of the region.
Also speaking, Former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Labour and Productivity, Dr Timiebi Koripamo-Agary, lamented that there had not been effective monitoring of benefit transfer mechanisms in the Niger Delta, such as the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, and the 13 per cent Derivation Fund.
She called for the scrapping of the NDDC, stating that the commission had failed in its mandate, while she advocated the use of the model for the development of Abuja to develop the Niger Delta, using established contractors to build major infrastructure projects in the region.
She insisted that the Niger Delta is in need of huge infrastructure development, noting this would create jobs in the region.
On his part, Executive Director of the Centre for Social Studies and Development, CSSD, also called ‘We The People’, Mr Ken Henshaw, maintained that there are no clearly defined and established government superintended structures for dispute resolution for affected communities within the context of a resource project.
According to him, research indicates that communities have little confidence in the ability, impartiality and willingness of regular judicial processes in Nigeria to efficiently resolve the dispute between resource-affected communities and oil companies.
To this end, he advocated the passage of a decent Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, and the implementation of the National Petroleum Policy, stating that it would address the concerns of citizens.
He further stated efforts should be made to ensure that benefit-sharing mechanisms translate to tangible benefits for the people of the Niger Delta region.
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