NDDC: N’Delta elders call for more development

Abuja—Niger Delta elders and groups yesterday hailed President Bola Tinubu’s re-appointment of Chief Samuel Ogbuku as Managing Director, Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), and demanded more employment opportunities as well as an accelerated infrastructural development of all states in the region.

According to them, the interventionist agency has no business building toilets in NDDC states, and asked Ogbuku to continue along the trajectory of real development he has set for himself.

Former spokesperson of the Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), Anab Sara-Igbe, who spoke on behalf of the elders at a briefing in Abuja yesterday, said the NDDC should be able to build bridges to link the states.

The briefing was called by a coalition of Niger Delta groups, including the Niger Delta Civil Action Advocacy Group (NDCAAG); Association of Waterways Ambassadors of Nigeria (AWAN); Movement For Oil And Solid Minerals Producing Communities (MOSMPC); Coastal People Consultative Council (CPCC) and the South-South Community, Abuja (SSCA).

Others are the Niger Delta Nonviolence Agitators Forum (NDNAF); Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) Abuja/Northern Nigeria Chapter; Southern Peoples Foundation (SPF); Ijaw Wari Worldwide; and the Progressive Youth Leadership Foundation of Niger Delta (PYLF-ND).

Sara-Igbe said: “As NDDC, we expect them to build bridges across the rivers so that we can travel by road like others. The oil is coming from us so I see no reason why we cannot build bridges. If we can build railways from here to Niger, why can’t we build bridges in the Niger Delta region?

“Secondly, he has started well by bringing an American firm to start a railway project in the Niger Delta. Niger Delta is not supposed to be involved in toilet building but it should be involved in major projects that will develop us.

‘’Again, we need investments. We need to go back to production, for companies to come in and produce things.

‘’We should be able to partner with international companies and even local companies so that they can carry the local communities along into local production so that we can create employment opportunities.

“Don’t forget oil and gas have destroyed our traditional occupation of fishing and farming and so this commission should think of how to replace those lost economies of fishing and trading and the fabric.”

Convener of the coalition and leader of the Niger Delta Non-violence Agitators, Wisdom Ikuli, noted that the conference was aimed at commending Tinubu’s recent re-appointment of Ogbuku, saying the move had brought a feeling of a high sense of belonging to people of the region.

“The strategic engagements and all-inclusive leadership style of Chief Samuel Ogbuku have resulted in the prevalent peace and security that has made the Niger Delta region the safest in the country and this has to be sustained.

“But very importantly, Chief Samuel Ogbuku is from Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa State where crude oil and gas were first discovered in commercial quantity and quality in 1956. Unfortunately, Ogbia is one of the most neglected and grossly underdeveloped areas in the country.

“It is ironic and unbelievable that this is the first time an Ogbia person has been appointed to head any of the interventionist agencies beginning from the Niger Delta Development Basin/Board to the Oil Mineral Producing Area Commission OMPADEC and now the NDDC.

“We also wish to use this opportunity to pass a Vote of Confidence on Chief Samuel Ogbuku Ph.D for the good work he is doing while urging him to remain resolute and focused on his agenda of changing the negative narratives about the region and commission,” he said.

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