Recently, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, said $40 billion had been spent in the Niger Delta region without visible development in the region. He made this statement when he held a meeting at the Petroleum Training Institute Conference Centre in Warri, Delta State with some prominent leaders from various ethnic groups of Urhobo, Isoko, Ijaw, Itsekiri, Ibibio and others. At that meeting, he said the $40billion came mainly from oil companies, the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), 13 per cent derivation and other intervention funds.
According to Kachikwu, “I’ve been to the creeks myself and discovered that there was no meaningful development of the riverine communities as expected by the Federal Government despite the huge amount disbursed to the region.” With this revelation by Kachikwu, both the conventional media and the social media went agog. Tongues wagged and torrents of condemnation visited the states in the Niger Delta for receiving a whopping $40billion in 12 years without commensurate development. The social media: twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp and Facebook were more ferocious in the media war against the Niger Delta. The sudden social media activists demanded the Niger Delta Avengers NDA and other militants in the region to hold their leaders accountable for the aforementioned sum of money.
However, one misconception many uninformed and ignorant Nigerians hold about the Niger Delta is that they perceive the region as only Delta, Bayelsa and Rivers states; this is a fallacy. The Niger Delta consists of nine states which include Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Edo, Delta, Abia, Imo and Ondo states. Though, I am not a mathematician but with my elementary mathematics, I think I can do a little summation and division. Now let us apply a little mathematical division here. If $40billion is divided by 12 years that will translate to $3billion per year and if $3billion is divided by nine states that make up the Niger Delta, the result will be a mere $333 million per state in a year! I stand to be corrected if there is error with this outcome. The nine states that constitute the Niger Delta have an estimated population of about 50 million people. So, if 50 million people received $40billion in 12 years, is that too much? What is $40billion in 12 years for a region that has been feeding the entire country since 1958?
Interestingly but worrisome, while nine states in the Niger Delta received $40billion in 12 years, General Theophilous Danjuma also received $1 billion in one day from the oil block allocated to him by the Federal Government! Don’t ask me how he got the oil block because I am not in a position to know that! In fact, in 2010, Gen. Danjuma cried out that he didn’t know what to do with the $1billion he got from the sale of his oil block!
It is uncharitable for. Kachikwu to say that there is nothing to show for the $40billion received by the nine states in the Niger Delta because all the infrastructure in the region were put in place with the above said sum of money. Likewise, the civil servants were also paid their salaries and allowances from the $40billion during the period in question. Definitely, Kachikwu is being economical with the truth and also playing to gallery by his remark or is he implying that the infrastructure in the entire Niger Delta states don’t equate $40billion? Doesn’t Kachikwu know the marshy topography of the Niger Delta region? After all, he is also from the Niger Delta. Doesn’t he know how much it cost to build a three bedroom bungalow or a kilometre of road in the Niger Delta? Does it cost the same amount of money to build a three-bedroom bungalow or a kilometre of road in the Niger Delta as it costs in the south-west or northern part of the country?
The $40billion received in 12 years by the nine states in the Niger Delta is a far cry from what they need to develop the region. In fact, with this revelation, the leaders in the region should be applauded for judiciously employing the beggarly sum of money in the developing the region to its present status.