“Leadership is the wise use of power.
Power is the capacity to translate intention
into reality and sustain it”
Warren G. Bennis
The various commissions set up to ensure the development of the Niger Delta have all failed due to insincerity of the Federal Government and lack of political will to develop the region. The establishment of commissions with the sole aim of developing the Niger Delta region is not new. It started in 1958 before Nigeria got her independence from Britain in 1960, with the creation of Niger Delta Development Board (NDDB) “….The board should be concerned only with the physical development of the area. It should carry out a survey of the area, investigate questions of agriculture, fisheries, land tenure and forestry involved in this survey and draw up schemes of development based on the findings of the survey….” The funds for carrying out these functions should be provided by the Federal Government” (James O. Ojiako, 1981: 61).The Federal Government has never failed to realize that the Niger Delta region needs real development but what it lacks is the sincerity to carry out its development plans. Thus, NDDB existed for some time and fell like a pack of cards without achieving any meaningful development. General Ibrahim Babangida (Rtd) then set up the Oil Mineral Producing Areas Development Commission (OMPADEC) during his administration between1985-1993. OMPADEC followed the way of its predecessor (NDDB) and failed woefully too. President Olusegun Obasanjo assumed office in 1999 and set up Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC). What has NDDC achieved since it’s inception in 1999? What development projects has NDDC been able to complete since it came on Board? If NDDC has done so well and added value to the lives of the Niger Delta people, why does the region still lacks infrastructures? Late President Umar Musa Yar’ Adua created the Ministry for Niger Delta Affairs to ensure the development of the region. Just like other developmental interventionists, it is to work in conjunction with NDDC to develop the region. When the ministry was created, Nigerians applauded and eulogized President Yar’ Adua. They said that he had done so much for the Niger Delta people and that they had no reason to complain any more. But has the creation of commissions or ministries solved any problems in this country? These commissions and ministries are not performing because they are usually starved of funds. At present, the Federal Government is owing NDDC about N224 billion. Now, how does the Federal Government expects NDDC to execute its projects when it is being starved of funds? Commissions are set up to deceive the Niger Delta people. The Federal Government usually set up commissions to tell the people that it has good intentions to develop the region, but this is far from the truth. If I may ask, how many commissions were set up before Lagos, the former capital of Nigeria was developed to the level it was before the seat of government was moved to Abuja? How many commissions were set up before Abuja was developed to the level it is now? The seat of government was moved to Abuja in 1992 by the administration of General Ibrahim Babangida (Rtd). Between 1992 till date, a period of 20 years, Abuja has been transformed from the forest it used to be to a “small London”. If Abuja could be developed to what it is now, with the money from the Niger Delta region, why can’t the Niger Delta region be given the same accelerated development like Abuja? If the Niger Delta that provides 95% of the revenue of this country can be abandoned by the Federal Government, what would have happened if the region does not have any sources of revenue generation? That means nobody would know that such a region exists in Nigeria. To those who praised late President Umar Musa Yar’ Adua for establishing the Ministry for Niger Delta Affairs, I ask, don’t we have Ministry of Education? Don’t we have Ministry for Agriculture? Don’t we have various ministries in the country? How are they performing? With the ministry of education on ground, what is the standard of our education? With the ministry of works and housing on ground, what is the state of our roads and housing? Are our roads motorable? Are they not death traps? Go through the Lagos-Benin road and see things for yourself. Go through Ibadan-Ilorin road and see things for yourself. As other commissions and ministries have failed woefully so also the Ministry for Niger Delta Affairs had failed too. This is because nothing has been achieved since the inception of this ministry. Can we point to any infrastructure that has been put in place by the Ministry for Niger Delta Affairs? Developments are not achieved by commissions and ministries but by leaders that have the political will to work. Anything that concerns the development of the Niger Delta is not taken seriously by the Federal Government. But why? It is because the Federal Government feels the Niger Delta people cannot do anything. If not so, how can Abuja be developed so much and the Niger Delta that provides 95% of the revenue of this country is in shambles? Former American President, John F. Kennedy said, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable”. All the Niger Delta people need is a revolution in development that will transform the region to places like Abuja, Dubai, Sun City, Paris, the Bahamas etc, so they can for once enjoy the resources that the Almighty God has blessed them with. The Niger Delta people are tired of having commissions and development boards that are not functioning. Since 1958, different commissions have been set up without achieving anything. Lagos and Abuja had no commissions before they were developed. The same political will that enabled the Federal Government to develop Lagos and Abuja, should also be extended to the Niger Delta region. The Niger Delta militants that have laid down their arms should not be pushed to the trenches for a second time. Let developmental revolution take place so that violent revolution will not recur.