Former Akwa Ibom State Governor Victor Obong Attah, has stated that he does not believe there should be a Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), rather the states should have full control of their resources, with accountability the “watchword.”
In an interview with ARISE NEWS on Thursday, Attah has said that the ministry of the Niger Delta region has no defined purpose yet, and he emphasised the need for total resource control in the region.
He noted that there is a lot of confusion in the concept of Niger Delta development, noting that various projects have been begun for the region, “but yet we can’t focus.”
President Bola Tinubu recently reactivated the Niger Delta Development Ministry and reassigned Abubakar Momoh, previously assigned to the Ministry of Youth, to the Ministry of Niger Delta Development as the minister-designate.
Attah said he would like to see Momoh tackle major regional projects stating that a regional development body should tackle major regional projects including “trans-regional railway lines, specialist hospitals and not little tasks like “buying school desks, drilling boreholes,” but a clear purpose has not been defined for the ministry.
He said, “We just have not defined what we want to do, and there’s a need to define it, but ultimately, whatever we are doing is just adhoc. The ultimate answer is in full and total resource control.
“The answer lies in total resource control.
“If we had our resources and nobody was stealing our oil as is being done now, for goodness sake, the Niger Delta region will develop.”
He added, “I don’t believe there should be an NDDC. I believe I should be allowed to control my resources and develop myself.
“There should be no reason for it to exist if we had done the correct thing in the first instance.”
He emphasised that NDDC has no meaning to him, but if there must be an NDDC, it should be a “regional developmental organisation doing regional projects” aiming to transform the whole region.
According to Attah, while many of the state governors for the Niger Delta region have not performed well, there will be a form of accountability put into place that isn’t present now, when resource control comes into the scene.
He said, “You find yourself being watched from every angle by those who elected you, by those who want to take over from you and believe me accountability becomes your watch word because if you cannot go in front of the public to say this is how the money was used, you know you’re in trouble.
“But this system does not allow anybody to be accountable for anything.
“The people that we have here are not sent by the people, they are sent by their parties.
“Somebody that fails to win an election as a governor, that means the people in his state have rejected him, becomes a minister. How will the people go to him?
“Today, we don’t even know how much money is going to the NDDC because when you have the budget, they tell you it was not released.”
Attah mentioned that the situation in the country isn’t working and the earlier parliamentary system was better and more accountable saying that “we have to wake up and admit that and change this constitution.”
He also briefly stated the need for a physical developmental plan, instead of a theoretical one, to tackle environmental degradation in the Niger Delta region.