The Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs is upbeat about the dissolution of the erstwhile Pius Odubu-led board of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC. Minister of State for the ministry, Senator Tayo Alasoadura, who accused some people he did not name of having rushed to constitute the board at a time the Federal Government was putting machinery in place to probe its activities since inception, imputed a selfish motive into their actions. Speaking when he paid a courtesy visit to the governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki at Government House, Benin City on Friday, Alasoadura said the dissolution of the board which members had already been screened and confirmed by the senate, was in order as the move prevented the perpetuation of corruption in the interventionist agency.
The minister said the new leadership of the ministry would not sit and watch corruption thrive in the Commission which was why it worked meticulously to put the right people in the right places. Underscoring the import of the ongoing forensic audit in the agency and the depth of rot, Alasoadura said “the first thing is the forensic audit. We have to know what was wrong in the past and what we can do to ameliorate it. We know a lot of corrupt practices were perpetuated in NDDC in the past, as almost N3 trillion was expended with nothing to show for it. We have about 12,000 abandoned NDDC projects and these are projects that are not really worth doing at all.”
While stating that the ministry was happy with the dissolution of the NDDC board by the president, which according to him was set up at a wrong time, Alasoadura posited that “when we were saying we want to find out what had happened in the past, people just rushed to form a new board. And as far as we are concerned, we saw that as ensuring it was business as usual for the new people. The minister, who explained that he was visiting Edo State to evaluate the ministry’s projects, expressed dissatisfaction with the quality and state of the on-going housing estate projects for the state.
“I was discouraged and sad when I saw the housing scheme being developed by our ministry in this state. The place is so bushy; almost everything has been vandalized. I believe if that place had been completed, people will not want to stay there because there is no infrastructure, schools, or a security post,” he said. The minister commended Obaseki for ensuring a conducive environment in the state for businesses to thrive and assured of the ministry’s support for the government.
Responding, Obaseki express his government’s support for the re-organisation taking place in the NDDC, noting that “I don’t believe that there is any other state that has been deprived like Edo in terms of resources that were allocated to it through the NDDC”. He however disclosed that the previous management apologized that they did not achieve 20 per cent allocation performance in the state. The governor said the state government would work better with the new management of the Ministry of Niger Delta as it believed the ministry would ensure that the NDDC was no longer used as political slush fund but rather for the development of the region.