The Conference of Presidents-General of Niger Delta Ethnic Nationalities (CPGNDEN) has kicked against moves to include Bauchi, Ogun and Lagos as new oil-producing states in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
A bill seeking an amendment to the NDDC Act for the inclusion of the three states and future oil-producing states in the commission, sponsored by Senator Solomon Adeola of Lagos West, passed second reading at the Senate last week Wednesday.
But the group, in a communique issued after its meeting in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, on Saturday, described the bill as a calculated attempt to smuggle the affected states into the commission.
The President of CPGNDEN, Professor Benjamin Okaba, who read the communique before journalists, said the entire exercise was aimed at distorting the Niger Delta as a geographical area.
Okaba said, “Our attention has also been drawn at the deliberate attempt to smuggle into the NDDC Act some non-contiguous states that defy the geographical definition of the Niger Delta as a geographical zone.
“This is totally condemnable and we state categorically that such states should be described as oil-producing and made to enjoy just 13 per cent derivation.
“The NDDC is meant to serve the development expectations of the people of the Niger Delta as an interventionist agency based on the age-long deprivation and environmental degradation, which is part of the recommendations of the Willinks Commission Report (of 1958).”
Okaba, who is also the President of the Ijaw National Congress (INC), also contended that the running of the NDDC by a sole administrator was contrary to the law establishing the commission.
He expressed dismay over the Federal Government’s refusal to publish the forensic audit report on the agency and called on the government to demonstrate its commitment to openness to underscore the integrity of the entire process.
Okaba urged the government “to initiate and bring to completion the process for the recovery of funds from contractors, firms, politicians, staff, among others, indicted by the forensic audit report.”
The CPGNDEN leader also called for the setting up of an administrative/criminal proceeding to prosecute those found culpable in the sleaze at the NDDC for punishment.
He, however, called on President Muhammadu Buhari to keep his promise and inaugurate a substantive board for the commission following the submission of the forensic report, and in line with the law establishing the agency.
He added that the Niger Delta was in dire need of development which the absence of the board had so far stalled.
Present at the meeting were Professor Chris Akpotu (Isoko Development Union), A. A. Onoharigho (Urhobo Progressive Union), Ante Ita (Oron Nationality), Brig. Gen. Mike Ndubisi (rtd) (Ndokwa Nation), Edward Ekpoko (Itsekiri Nation) and Young Kigbara (Ogoni Representative), among others.