From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has vowed to recover every kobo looted from the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and ensure those found culpable are prosecuted within the ambit of the law.
Buhari, according to a statement by his spokesman, Femi Adesina, made the vow, yesterday, during the virtual commissioning of NDDC prototype hostel at the University of Uyo, Akwa Ibom, where he assured that the forensic audit of the NDDC was being reviewed with the aim of recovering every looted fund.
He regretted that the special development fund of the entire region was squandered by a few for more than 20 years leaving many in penury.
“NDDC needs to demonstrate it can achieve the objectives it was conceived and make its impact felt all over the Niger Delta region. Lives of the people of the Niger Delta could be so much better if the funding received by this commission since its inception, in billions of naira, over the last 20 years, have been judiciously deployed in service of the people.
“The serial abuse, lack of delivery and what had become an entrenched institutional decay was the reason I called for the forensic audit.
“Therefore, going forward, we shall ensure every recoverable kobo is recovered for use in service of the people of this region and those found culpable shall face the law.
“Consequently, I want to use the opportunity of this commissioning to direct all statutory contributors to the NDDC to remit all outstanding funds to the commission, and to ensure this is done transparently and according to laid down procedure and process.”
President Buhari directed that all abandoned projects that directly impact the livelihood of the people should be revived and completed.
“When I directed the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, to institute a forensic audit of the commission, after many representations by major stakeholders in the Niger Delta, I had also directed that all viable projects, which had been abandoned but which would impact positively on the lives and livelihoods of the people be immediately revived and completed.”
President Buhari noted that the contract for the building of 1,050 capacity hostel for male and female students was awarded in 2004, and like many others, it was abandoned.
“This prototype university hostel consists of 1,050 bed spaces, 525 each for males and females, and is furnished to meet the needs of a university student. The complex also boasts of significant hard and soft infrastructure to ensure its sustainability and durability.
“The completion of this structure is equally in recognition of the importance government attaches to providing quality housing and improved education for all Nigerians.
“It is, therefore, another important proof that this administration is committed to satisfying the needs of the people, throughout Nigeria, and fulfilling their expectations. Government must continue in its efforts to serve the people by providing amenities as well as the enabling environment for scholarships, investments across all sectors, for sustenance of the environment and overall growth of the economy.”
President Buhari said across many public universities and institutions of higher learning, children face accommodation challenges while private investors were taking advantage of the gap to provide accommodation, unfortunately tasking the resources of parents and guardians.
“Many of them are located far away from school premises and come with their own peculiar challenges. It is good that such an infrastructure gap is being addressed, by providing accommodation for students that would be affordable, well built, and in a secure environment,’’ he said.
The president noted that Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, on his behalf, commissioned the Special Protections Unit Base 6 Barracks in Omagwa, Rivers State, which was built and donated by the NDDC to the Nigeria Police Force.
“Firstly, and as stated on that occasion, the complex is part of a crucial component of the major reform we are undertaking with the Nigerian Police Force. While we are working to increase the number of police personnel, within set yearly targets, and re-equip personnel, both in personal gear and hardware, accommodation remains an important feature of that reform. Indeed, it shows we can alleviate the accommodation challenges of senior security personnel in order to enhance security in the region.
“Secondly, this singular intervention demonstrates that NDDC understands the importance of government’s effort at improving the lives and livelihoods of our police officers, in line with my directive that building of barracks for men and women of the police force should be done in collaboration with the special housing effort of the family home funds.’’
Akpabio said the completion of the NDDC headquarters complex and other projects clearly showed the President Buhari’s commitment to improving the livelihood of people in the Niger Delta while theVice Chancellor, Nyaudoh Ukpabio Ndaeyo, and the student union applauded the president for the intervention with presentation of awards.