The South-South Peoples Assembly, SSPA, on Monday said the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) was rotten and needed to be cleansed.
National Secretary of the SSPA, Chief Ayakeme Whisky, tasked the management of the NDDC to fight the corruption confronting the commission in order to achieve its targets.
Whisky, who spoke in a telephone interview with The PUNCH, also blamed the prevalence of abandoned NDDC projects across the oil rich region on the Federal Government’s refusal to release over N500bn owed the commission.
The SSPA scribe said that he would not be surprised if the agency had abandoned up to 4,000 projects as a result of the paucity of funds, urging the Federal Government to pay its unremitted funds to the NDDC.
He said, “I am not exonerating the internal corruption that is going on in NDDC. The NDDC to an extent is corrupt. I started the NDDC in 2001 as a political staff. I know how things were being done; I known the work attitude of staff. But everything appears to have changed.
“Every NDDC staff is becoming a contractor and they are more interested in how much money they can make, how many houses they can build. Therefore, they struggle to get contracts with contractors whereas those who pay money to register as contractors don’t get jobs.
“In as much as I agree that the NDDC needs cleansing, I can never exonerate the Federal Government from culpability in the inability of the NDDC to adequately fund its projects. The Federal Government, as we speak, owes NDDC over N500bn and one of the ways forward is for the Federal Government to release the funds they owe the NDDC”.
Whisky said the NDDC was suffering from institutional deprivation and official abandonment, which he traced to former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s poor handling of the NDDC Act.
He said the ex-president did not give assent to the NDDC document as a result of some of the provisions in it.
Whisky said, “NDDC is the only institution created by law that resolved to come on board without presidential assent because Chief Olusegun Obasanjo did not like some of the provisions creating NDDC.
“He (Obasanjo) refused to sign the NDDC Act into law and the National Assembly had to pass that law by two-third majority after the mandatory 30 days had lapsed for NDDC to now become a law. From day one, the Federal Government has withheld all that it was supposed to contribute for the funding of the NDDC. So, how can NDDC perform?”