• Sunday, May 26, 2024
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Niger Delta women lament endless debts to NDDC

Niger Delta women lament endless debts to NDDC

The endless debts owed to the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) seem to get to the nerves of women in the oil region.

Now, a coalition of Niger Delta Women Leaders has raised their voices to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to urgently address the issue of funds owed the Commission to enable it fast-track the development of the Niger Delta region.

The Commission has been bashed and blamed for gross failures in the past but its funds are said to be trapped by the international oil corporations (IOCs). Incidentally, the FG that ought to raise harsh eyes on the IOCs has been the worst culprit in short-changing the oil region through debts owed the NDDC.

As far back as six years, the traditional rulers in the region had established that the NDDC was owed over N800bn. They met the then President, Muhammadu Buhari, who had ordered a fact finding system to ascertain the truth of the petition. When this was said to have been confirmed, Buhari was said to have ordered for gradual deductions from the FG account to be paid monthly to the NDDC.

It is not clear how far that instruction was carried as the finances of the Commission have been treated with utmost secrecy. The annual budgets have since been unavailable to the public while the forensic audit report was never made public.

Now, the women of the region seem to take over the battle to rescue the funds. The group led by its president, Annkio Briggs, made a serious plea when they stormed the Commission.

The group made up of various associations had an interactive session with management of the NDDC at its headquarters in Port Harcourt where they gave a thumb-up to the Commission for providing a platform for stakeholders to make meaningful suggestions on the development of the region.

They opined that the management of NDDC under the leadership of Samuel Ogbuku had all it takes to change the old narrative. They said: ‘We understand that funding is one of the major challenges facing the NDDC. We want to use this opportunity to call on Mr. President to, urgently, address the issue of funds the Commission is being owed so that the Commission can accelerate on its level of development.”

While noting the feats recorded in the area of projects, the group assured that it would continue to give its support to the Commission to meet its set goals.

The group named the feats as road infrastructure, scholarship awards, solar electrification projects, etc. “The Commission is doing well under your leadership and we take note that President Tinubu listens to the voices of the people of the region who did not relent in calling for your re-appointment”.

The Coalition further stressed the need to involve women more in the works of the Commission.

“We want a total involvement of women in all your programmes with special discretion.”

Responding, the NDDC CEO said the interaction was necessary to provide a platform for opinions and useful suggestions on how to drive the development process in the Niger Delta region. He promised to look into the suggestions. He also showed how efforts were made to empower women.

He explained that the Commission introduced a youth development and empowerment scheme known as Holistic Opportunities, Projects and Engagement (HOPE) and gave details of its objectives and strategies. He also talked about the collaboration with the Niger Delta Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Trade, Mines and Agriculture (NDCCITMA) and other bodies to ensure the sustainability of its programmes.