The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio has blamed government officials and all relevant stakeholders in the Niger Delta region for the past failures of the Niger Delta Development Commission(NDDC) to deliver on its mandate.
Akpabio, the supervising minister of the NDDC, identified corruption, weak governance and institutional weaknesses, lack of proper synergy as some of the drawbacks of the interventionist agency.
The minister stated this on Friday in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State while presenting his keynote address to flag off an NDDC retreat with the theme, ”Collaborating, Planning and Re-strategizing for a better Niger Delta Region”.
The Minister said transparency and inclusiveness in the commission’s budgeting systems, evaluation and strict monitoring of projects and programmes are necessary for the NDDC to impact meaningfully in the region.
According to him, ”for the Commission to effectively and efficiently deliver on its mandate, as captured in Section 7 of the Niger Delta Development Commission (Establishment, etc.) Act (as amended), it has decided to look at ways at achieving an all-inclusive budget.
”It is clear that fiscal transparency in budgeting has been compromised, not only by executive overrides but by weak internal mechanisms, which give little or no resistance to overbearing external influences.
“Corruption is one of the greatest problems of the Nigerian society and it also finds its ugly and devastating effects in all sectors of the polity including the Niger Delta Development Commission.
”If strengthening NDDC, as an institution through its budgeting systems, as well as through its procurement, monitoring, evaluation and compliance processes, is not achieved, then the bells of doom would, inevitably, begin to toll harder.
”Secondly, we should look at governance issues. It is often stated that “weak political and institutional governance in the Niger Delta has led to the misuse of public resources, poor service delivery, and the poor enforcement, of the law.
”The consequence has been the lingering restiveness, the breakdown of trust, abuse and misuse of power between officials and the communities, and embezzlement and attendant violence.
”Yet, every concerned party is guilty. Private investors in the oil and gas sector, factions of different community restive groups, traditional rulers, the regulatory and supervisory agencies and government officials have been fingered as contributory to the challenges in establishing good governance”.
In his welcome remarks, the Interim Administrator of the NDDC, Mr. Efiong Akwa said the retreat is aimed at furthering the ongoing consultations between the commission and all relevant stakeholders for effective development of the region.