Speaker of House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila on Wednesday disclosed that Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has failed the people of the region.
Gbajabiamila gave the verdict on the Commission, at an investigative hearing on the alleged Administrative irregularities and financial impropriety at the NDDC organized by the House Committee on NDDC Chaired by Rep Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo.
According to him, “the Federal Government of Nigeria created the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) as an interventionist agency, to bridge critical development gaps in a region where years of underinvestment in infrastructure and the damage from fossil fuel exploration, has had a severely deleterious effect on the lives, livelihoods and wellbeing of the people.
“It was intended that the Commission will begin the long-overdue process of making good on our nation’s obligations to the people of the Niger Delta, from whose lands and waters we have for decades drawn our nation’s sustenance.
“In the over two decades since, that promise has not been kept. Despite its critical importance and the vast sums that have been appropriated by the Federal Government, the Niger Delta of Nigeria continues to score exceptionally low on many of the major human development indices.
“These statistics reflect the reality of disease and deprivation, lack of opportunity and broken dreams that is the plight of many of our fellow citizens in the region. It is therefore particularly disturbing and quite frankly, embarrassing that every other news report about the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) seems to centre around escalating allegations of corruption and malfeasance.”
Gbajabiamila said the Committee would get to the bottom of the allegations financial impropriety, no matter whose ox is gored.
According to him, “our purpose today, and over the cause of this Investigative Hearing, is to ask why this failure persists and to do so with a determination to understand the causes of that failure so that we can act to redeem the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and remove those factors that imperil the Commission’s noble mission. We will examine the allegations of corruption and malfeasance that have dogged the Commission.”
“We will do so with neither fear nor favour, confident in the assurance that we have both a constitutional duty and moral obligation to ensure that the enormous sums of money appropriated to the NDDC over the years are appropriately accounted for by those whose responsibility it has been to manage this important and all too essential public trust.”
He, however, observed that the success of the assignment will depend on the cooperation of officials of the Commission, as he warned the Committee to avoid pitfalls that will tarnish the reputation of the House.
According to him, “the success of this present assignment will depend in no small extent on the willingness of the various stakeholders in the Commission, within Government and in the local communities to cooperate with the Committee, by providing material evidence in the form of documents or witness testimony.
“I encourage all the stakeholders to consider this investigative hearing as a last-ditch effort to save the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and to engage with this Committee in a patriotic partnership to break the jinx of underdevelopment in the Niger Delta region.”
Earlier in his welcome address, the Chairman of the Committee, Rep. Tunji-Ojo, had recalled that the House of Representatives on 5th May 2020, deliberated on a motion on the need to investigate the alleged financial malfeasance and other activities in the Niger Delta Development Commission (N DDC) and consequently, referred same to the Committee to investigate.”