Niger Delta ex-agitators have hailed the reported decision of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to return the supervision of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, to the Presidency.
The National Secretary of the First Phase Ex-agitators, Mr. Nature Dumale, in a statement in Port Harcourt, said it was heart-warming to hear the NDDC would henceforth report directly to the President like the North East Development Commission (NEDC).
He said the development was like a prayer answered and recalled that he had previously led a campaign for the commission to be directly supervised by the President.
Dumale, who is also the Chairman of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, PAP, Strategic Communication Committee, SCC, said Tinubu had, by the singular act, demonstrated his genuine intention to turn around the fortunes of the NDDC.
He insisted that the Niger Delta had suffered a lack of development over the years because greedy individuals were allowed to convert many interventions by the Federal Government for the region into their estates.
“We want to use this opportunity to appreciate Mr. President, for the wisdom in returning the NDDC to the Presidency.
“We believe that this will speed up the development of the region, and stem the culture of turning the Commission into a cash cow.
“For us, it is a sign that the President has good intentions for the Niger Delta region for summoning the political will to move the interventionist agency back to the Presidency. This means that he wants proper supervision of the NDDC.
“As ex-agitators, we can boldly say that the Niger Delta has been suffering because of mismanagement. This move will engender accountability, transparency and the much-touted development of the Niger Delta, would become a reality.
“This is one step Mr. President has taken to give us hope as leaders in the region. We believe that the NDDC, under the supervision of the Presidency, would facilitate meaningful development.
“The only time we experienced some development was when NDDC was under the direct supervision of the Presidency. As soon as it was moved to the Ministry of Niger Delta, it became a cash cow, for the Niger Delta Cartel, whose only agenda, is to keep the Niger Delta underdeveloped,” he said.
Dumale said they discovered that apart from the NDDC and the PAP, there was a Niger Delta Recovery Plan (NDRP), which mandated the ministries of petroleum, environment and Niger Delta affairs to work in synergy in articulating the region’s development.
He continued: “We live in an environment where a lot is taken away on a daily basis by the federal government, yet there is little to show for it. The condition of Ogoni-Onne-Eleme Road, which is part of the East-West road, comes to mind. The road has remained a death trap making it impossible for free movement of goods.
“We are standing behind President Tinubu and we await, with great enthusiasm and renewed vigour, the speedy development of our homeland”.
He warned that the ex-agitators were empowered with education and strategies to hold their leaders accountable and would no longer tolerate mismanagement of their commonwealth.
He added: “We have been empowered, and we won’t engage anybody with arms. We have been trained to communicate positively and to make our case known even to the United Nations.
“So, we will diplomatically and strategically confront our leaders and ask questions. There is no accountability because people divert funds meant for our region without being held to account for these resources. As youths of Niger Delta are getting exposed and uncovering financial crimes against them, on a daily basis, it is not going to be business as usual”.
Dumale called on President Tinubu to compel the NDDC to make public the forensic audit report on the commission, insisting that persons responsible for diverting the commission’s resources must be held accountable.