Politicising Developments In Akwa Ibom
The perceived or imagined common political interest between the Akwa Ibom State governor, Deacon Udom Emmanuel and the Managing of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Obong Nsima Ekere has reached a crescendo as it has succeeded in impeding development in the state.
Established on July 12th, 2000, by an act which repealed the Oil Mineral Producing Areas Commission Decree 1998 by the Senate, NDDC was expected to use funds received from the allocation of the Federation Account for tackling ecological problems which arise from the exploration of oil minerals in the Niger-Delta area and for connected purposes.”
The Senate in Part II of the Act listed the Functions and Powers of the Commission.
Section 7 (3) of Part II states inter alia: “The Commission shall be subject to the direction, control or supervision in the performance of its functions under this Act by the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
In Akwa Ibom State however, the commission seems to be presented with yet another master, other than the federal government and constantly criticised for allegedly awarding roads earmarked for mega developments by the state. For this, the state commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Charles Udoh once remarked “NDDC cannot come to this state to create a bushtrack where we needed a dual carriage way”.
While many agree to a need for close collaboration between the state and the commission for a better organized development in the state, others have however alleged a feeling of insecurity on the part of the state governor whom they claim is intimidated by the overwhelming commendations already poured out on the current leadership of the NDDC, and worried such may further endear him to the people against 2019.
This ugly development has therefore created a strict face-off between the duo as the state government is seen to be engaging in hurried mobilization to sites occupied by NDDC, and in same manner, pulling out as soon as its succeed in dispelling its opponent.
Although strongly desiring the quick interventions by NDDC wherever they were allowed, communities across the state, especially those with severe ecological problems have been denied such interventions as the commission is no longer allowed to operate freely.
While the Akwa Ibom people were hoping for a better collaboration between the state and the interventionists (NDDC), to enable it continue to deliver its mandate to the highest oil producing state in Nigeria, Governor Udom Emmanuel, on a very odd occasion, dropped yet another bomb.
At the Security Summit for the South South states by the IGP Ibrahim Idris in Uyo, the governor who has been complaining of being restricted by dwindling resources issued an order, restricting the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) from carrying out any intervention project in any of the nine Niger Delta states without the approval of governors of such state.
“Let me also use this opportunity that the MD of NDDC is here to state clearly that NDDC does not own even a piece of land. It is the governors that are in charge of land. NDDC should not enter any of the nine Niger Delta states to do any project without permission from the governors. When it is time for politics, we shall play politics”. He warned.
To drive home its warning, the Akwa Ibom State government through the state Commissioner for Works, Mr Ephraim Inyangeyen, few days later, chased out contractors engaged by the NDDC to carry out an intervention on a 300 meter Youth Avenue, Uyo.
But members of communities across the state have taken up on the governor with a stern warning to stay off the activities of NDDC and allow the agency continue its very impressive interventions for the benefit of Akwa Ibom people.
First the address the issue is an indegene of Etim Ekpo, one of the Local Government Areas ravaged by activities of cultists, Barr Chris Okorie who expressed disappointment that the governor jeopardized an opportunity to lay bare the security challenges confronting the people of Etim Ekpo, to attack an agency he has no control of.
Okorie said about 35 people have so far been killed in Etim Ekpo and more in Ukanafun due to ongoing activities of cultists which has rendered both LGAs constantly tensed for over a year now.
“I expected the governor to have used the security summit with the IGP to discuss security challenges confronting Etim Ekpo and Ukanafun, but he wasted the opportunity and made matters worse for the state by making inciting statements which may further deteriorate our already tensed security situation”. He said.
Taking the governor on his claims during the summit that; “The NDDC has not been able to execute even a kilometer of road in my state,” a resident of Uyo, Mr Ekot Ita of Phenson Street, said the governor has elevated political interest above the development of Akwa Ibom State.
Referring to his street for instance, he said it would be difficult to compare the relief brought to the people of the state by the state government and that which comes from the NDDC.
His words; ” If you were in this state during the last administration, you would have agreed that service roads within Uyo were in very terrible state, people raised several appeals to the state government but without response, the then governor was concentrating on some white elephant projects which his successor has not been able to revisit till date”.
“Only the major roads had nylon tar, when you drive inside town, you meet pot holes everywhere, but as soon as Nsima Ekere took over leadership of the NDDC, he intervened and fixed up those roads, even the governor can’t deny this, that is why he is intimidated. Ask your governor to show me one road he has completed in this state, except in his village. I have benefited from NDDC, he should allow others to also benefit please”.
Ekot said he became interested in the activities of NDDC after receiving an immediate response to his community request which promptly got their deplorable road fixed.
“If the state government is complaining about low quality job, I would say that was in the past, not in this regime of NDDC, I recall how much they emphasized on quality delivery before payment during the rehabilitation of our road. They caused us the community people to also supervise and ensure compliance with standard. From my investigations the NDDC had constructed about 2,999 roads across the Niger Delta States, built classroom blocks, provided pipe borne water among other human capital projects”.
“In Akwa Ibom State for instance, the agency has constructed all the internal roads in Federal, State, Akwa Savings and other Housing Estates across the three Senatorial Districts of the state, donated KVA generator to 21st anniversary hospital. NDDC has constructed roads totalling about 301 in AKS, they should be allowed to work”. He said
Also speaking, the state Chairman of the Civil Liberty Organization (CLO), Barr Clifford Thomas said the state government has no power or right to make such reckless statement for whatever reason as it has no power to prevent the NDDC from carrying out its intervention mandate.
His words “Its a federal government intervention agency and has the right to intenvene wherever such is called for. Politicizing a development project is against the people and the people are the ones suffering. Politics is not for everybody, but development is for everyone”.
– Culled from Independent, Tuesday, October 17, 2017
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