The various development commissions set up to develop the Niger Delta region of the country since independence are smoke screens. This is because the various governments that established the commissions had no genuine intention to develop that region that is the lifeblood of the country. It should be noted that after such commissions have been established they are starved of funds by the same federal government that set them up.
Moreover, whenever the people of the Niger Delta region demand for the development of the region, other Nigerians would remind them that the federal government has done enough for them by giving them 13 percent derivation. They also refer to the Niger Delta Development Commission and Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs. Also, they say aggrieved people of the Niger Delta region should hold their traditional rulers and other leaders responsible for the underdevelopment of the region because according to them, they collect money from oil companies operating in the region. Furthermore, they say the leaders embezzle the funds allocated to the region through the 13 percent derivation, NDDC and the Ministry of the Niger Delta Affairs. No display of ignorance can be more than this! Is it only in the Niger Delta that companies and governments give money to traditional rulers? Don’t companies and governments give money to traditional rulers in other parts of the country? How do traditional rulers feed if companies and governments don’t pay them? Does the money companies pay to traditional rulers replace corporate social responsibility in the environment they operate?
Some uninformed Nigerians outside the Niger Delta region think the workforce in the NDDC and the Ministry for Niger Delta Affairs are only people from the Niger Delta region. This is fallacious because it is not only the people of the Niger Delta that work with the NDDC and the Ministry for the Niger Delta Affairs. The NDDC and the Ministry for the Niger Delta Affairs are like other commissions and ministries whose workforce comprises Nigerians from all parts of the country. So, their failure shouldn’t be blamed on the people of the Niger Delta alone but on all Nigerians. Again, it is not only the NDDC and Ministry for Niger Delta Affairs that have failed in their statutory duties in the country. How effective are the Police Service Commission, National Population Commission, Ministry for Agriculture, Ministry of Power etc., just to mention a few?
Additionally, is it not unthinkable that the NDDC will perform its statutory obligations when the federal government owes it a whooping N900 billion? How can the NDDC function optimally when Oil Multinational Companies, ecological fund and Indigenous Petroleum Companies deliberately refused to pay their contributions to the NDDC pulse as mandated by the NDDC Act? Till date, IPCS owes the NDDC the sum of N300 billion! Regrettably too, the budget of the NDDC has been subjected to downward review since 2015. In 2014, the budget was N322b but it was reduced to N299.5b in 2015. This was further scale down to N241b in the 2016 budget! Now, how can the NDDC develop considering this minute budget and the swampy nature of the Niger Delta?
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 its present status of “small London” within a space of 23 years? Recall that Lagos and Abuja were transformed with the money derived from the Niger Delta region, why can’t the region be developed like Dubai and Saudi Arabia? The federal government has received its major revenues from the Niger Delta within the last 50 years.
The people of the Niger Delta are tired of having commissions and developmental boards that are mere smoke screens. They are tired of meetings and dialogues. What the people of the Niger Delta region want is political will on the path of the federal government that will turn the region into a huge construction site that will in turn transform the region to places like Abuja, Singapore and Dubai. The Niger Delta commissions are mere smoke screens; they should be scrapped.