Calls Grow Louder to Dismantle Niger Delta Development Ministry Amidst Allegations of Ineffectiveness

A prominent coalition, known as the Community Development Committees of Niger Delta Oil and Gas Producing Areas, has once again emphasized the urgent need for the dissolution of the Ministry of Niger Delta Development. They assert that this governmental entity has become a means for politicians to siphon resources for personal gain, while the oil-rich communities in the Niger Delta region continue to suffer without tangible benefits.

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu (L), President Federal Republic of Nigeria, and Mr. Joseph Ambakederimo, Joseph Ambakederimo, Convener South South Reawakening Group (SSRG) and Chairman Board of Trustees Community Development Committees of Niger Delta Oil and Gas Producing Areas

This coalition, which has been leading the charge in advocating for the ministry’s dissolution, passionately implores President Bola Tinubu not to allocate any further scarce resources towards funding the ministry. They firmly argue that the ministry has failed to demonstrate its value or make a meaningful impact in the region over the years.

In a statement released to the public, Comrade Joseph Ambakederimo, the Convener of the South-South Reawakening Group (SSRG) and Chairman of the Board of Trustees for the Community Development Committees of Niger Delta Oil and Gas Producing Areas, renews the call for the complete dismantling of the ministry. He insists on the necessity of providing verifiable evidence of any projects executed by the ministry within the Niger Delta region.

The statement partly reads: “We have maintained and will continue to stand firm on our resolve to make representation to President Bola Tinubu for him to better appreciate the merits of our call to scrap the Ministry of Niger Delta Development. The Ministry has not been useful and has not met the aspirations of the people in the oil-producing areas.

“We need the Honourable Minister to bring forth a verifiable list of projects undertaken by his Ministry for the past twelve years that the Ministry has existed, whether ongoing, completed, or abandoned. We must verify these projects to corroborate the position that we have held. Furthermore, I will challenge the Honourable Minister of Niger Delta Development to a debate on National Television so that we can better appreciate the position we have held: that the Ministry does not need to exist a day longer than necessary.

“The Ministry was created to assuage the agitation of a people who were not actually sure of what we really want as a people but to bask in the euphoria of seeing a government boxed into a corner of submission. So, if you ask me what we have gained in the region with all the duplicity of agencies with overlapping functions, my response, and that of many of our people, would be nothing whatsoever.

“We have also identified that the Ministry is a distraction to the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC). The NDDC’s decline started about three years after the Ministry was created, and it became worse when the then-Minister, Senator Godswill Akpabio, who is now the President of the Senate, took charge. The obsession that was brought to bear on the NDDC was suspect, and of course, our fears were confirmed.

“The maiden media interaction the Honourable Minister had was basically all about the NDDC. Nothing in the media interaction was said about the Ministry itself. The Minister did not mention one project undertaken by the Ministry or his action plan for the development of the region. It is disheartening to watch the Minister’s tour on television without him saying anything tangible about the government’s plan for the entire region, which is replete with the total collapse of infrastructure.

“Going by the recommendations put forward by the Steve Oronsaye committee, which listed the Ministry of Niger Delta Development among others to be scrapped, was the most ideal recommendation given by that committee. We support the position of the Steve Oronsaye committee, and we hereby call on the President to do the needful as soon as practicable unless those calling for the retention of the Ministry of Niger Delta Development are beneficiaries of the diversion of resources to line their pockets. If the Ministry must stay, then it is there to line the pockets of a few; this is essentially what the Ministry has been used for. With all the agencies, including the Ministry, Amnesty office, NDDC, thirteen percent derivation, the states in the region are all in competition to collect loans, including the states’ statutory allocation. The region is still crying for infrastructural attention. The resources allocated to all of these agencies, including the states’ share of FACC, is nearly one-third of the annual national budget. This should tell us that something is not right. It is time to do the right thing, and that right thing is streamlining the MDAs in the region that have anything to do with the development agenda of the oil-producing areas.

“The President must not allow himself to be blackmailed. The appointment of Hon. Abubakar Momoh is, in itself, an aberration and should be reversed immediately. Here is a man who comes from a very dry land and cannot feel, and will never feel, what my people from the wetlands feel. If we may go further, the President should quickly carry out a reshuffle of his cabinet and assign the Ministry to someone who knows how it feels to come from a Chikoko-infested terrain. There should be no sentiment on this matter. If the Ministry must stay, then someone from the real dungeon of an Oil and Gas Producing Community must be considered. It is never too late to make amends. The President should institute and empanel a forensic audit of the Ministry of Niger Delta Development to have firsthand information on the issues that have militated against the optimal performance of the Ministry since its creation twelve years ago.

“Budgetary provision for the Ministry should be channeled to the NDDC in order for it to perform as it did in the past, and even better. The NDDC has to its credit roads and bridges that have cut through virgin forests, electrification of far-flung communities in the creeks, thousands of hectares of land that have been reclaimed, thousands of square kilometers of shore protection, access roads to farming settlements for ease of evacuating farm produce to urban markets, verifiable wealth creation strategies, and empowerment schemes targeted at youths in the oil-producing areas, among many others too numerous to mention.

“We have a leadership of the NDDC today that has a clear vision and an action plan to turn the fortunes of the region and its people for good. Therefore, what we are calling for is more money for the NDDC: an increase in the Federal government’s contribution from fifteen percent to twenty-five percent, an increase in the oil and gas companies’ statutory contribution from three percent to fifteen percent, and an increase in the share of ecological funds due to States in the region from fifty percent to seventy percent. This call for increased funding for the NDDC is coming against the backdrop of the present economic realities that we face. The CDC, as stakeholders, is desirous of sponsoring a private bill to the National Assembly that will kickstart the process of a constitutional amendment going forward.”

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