Lauretta Onochie, Chairman, Governing Board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has revealed how the board’s funds were previously squandered.
According to her, money meant for the agency and by extension, development of the Niger Delta, was squandered in Abuja, Lagos, United Kingdom, Dubai, among others.
Onochie claimed that the said funds were squandered by people whose responsibility was to develop the region, thereby impoverishing people of the region.
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Onochie said this following the resumption of responsibilities by the new board.
The new Chair expressed dissatisfaction with the impact of the agency on the region, describing it as shameful not just to the Niger Delta region but to Nigeria in general.
She made the disclosures when she addressed management and staff of the commission at the agency’s headquarters in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.
“Today is a historic day. I’m not just for the people of the Niger Delta, but for the women of Nigeria. And being a historic day, we have a lot of things going on today.
“Like the MD had said earlier, he has said a lot I would have said. But, let me remind us why we are here. This (NDDC) is an organisation, a commission that was commissioned specifically for the people of the Niger Delta. It is an interventionist agency that is supposed to bring about prosperity; it is supposed to bring development in our region.
“This organization was set up in the year 2000. And, if you go round the Niger Delta to date, there is little or nothing to show for it. NDDC has been a shame of the Niger Delta and a shame of our nation. For the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration has been determined to turn things around.
“As I said yesterday, at our inauguration, he (Buhari) never does things in his own interest. Everything he does, he does in the interest of Nigerians. And this board you see here represents that interest.
“We are here to reposition NDDC. We are here to serve people of the Niger Delta and by extension people of Nigeria. We are here to do things differently.”
Onochie again said:
“When I returned from the diaspora in 2014 to join his (Buhari) campaign, what I heard everywhere was ‘that’s not how we do it here. Madam, this is not London; this is not UK’.
“We are going to do things differently and we don’t want to hear that story. We have come up with ideas.”
Earlier, the new Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer (MD/CEO) of the commission, Samuel Ogbuku, said it was an auspicious day, which witnessed the official handing over from the outgoing MD to the successor.
“Well, as a board that has just officially resumed today, at the NDDC headquarters, I want to, first of all, assure you that we are not to antagonise anybody. We are here to also depend on your experience. NDDC administration needs experience. We need your support we need your cooperation.
“We are not here like one party handing over from one party. We are not here to fight anybody. We are all people from Niger Delta. I want all of you to be rest assured that, based on your competence, you are going to be working with this administration. We are definitely not going to look at mediocrity. Everything has been based on your competence. If you show ingenuity, you have a chance to work with us.”
The new MD/CEO assured that an enabling working environment would be provided for the staff for them to demonstrate their ingenuity because they were carriers of stigmatisation.
“Out there, everybody believes that NDDC has failed. So, you are stigmatised to the part of the failure. I am saying what people out there are saying. It may not be fact, it could just be an assumption. But, the staff work here seems to have some level of stigmatisation. I don’t blame you; maybe, you have not been given the enabling environment.
“I believe all of here are well experienced, well trained to give the people of Niger Delta the best.”
On the handover note, Ogbuku said it was detailed and he and members of the governing body would go through the recommendations and other issues.
In his handing over note, the outgoing MD, Engr. Emmanuel Audu, pledged to work with the new board to succeed.
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