Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
A pressure group, the Vanguard for the Protection of Rights of Citizens of Nigeria (VPRCN), has called for the return of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to the Presidency for accountable supervision.
The group’s National Coordinator, Sharon Faliya Cham, and Publicity Director, Bitrus Yakubu, made the demand during a rally held at the entrance of the National Assembly complex in Abuja.
According to the group, it was wrong for the Niger Delta region to put the blame of the underdevelopment on the North.
Yakubu said the rally was both to canvas for the return of the NDDC to the Presidency and a wake-up call to Niger Delta youths to probe the real reason for the perpetual underdevelopment of the oil-rich region.
According to him, the recent revelations during the probe of the NDDC had indicated that the rot, which had kept the region perpetually poor despite the huge resources, had all along been perpetrated by the leaders of the region and not the North as being insinuated.
‘There have been insinuations coming out of the Niger Delta suggesting that the North is behind their underdevelopment, the bastardisation of their land, the pollution, the degradation and all that.
‘That’s why we are bringing this to their notice that no, the Niger Delta youths should rise up and ask their leaders questions. What happened to the billions of dollars pumped into the region for the sole purpose of its development? What happened to the money? Is it the Northerners that went in to collect these monies?
‘This is why we are saying to the Niger Deltans, no the North is not your problem. Your problems are your leaders; the politicians from your region, the traditional leaders of the region, the contractors that connive with their leaders to short-change the people. They should open up their eyes and see things for themselves.
‘We want to conscientious Nigerians that what we are experiencing from the Niger Delta Development Commission and the Federal Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs is not palatable.
‘The wanton corruption happening, the drama at the National Assembly is uncalled for so we want the President to take a decisive action by returning the NDDC back to the Presidency for proper supervision and monitoring,’ he said.
Also speaking on the need for the NDDC to be returned to the Presidency, the Coordinator of the group, Cham, said the call became necessary considering the fact that the current Presidency enjoys a high level of credibility and trust and would be able to instil sanity.
‘It might not solve the problems of the area in the short run, but we believe that in the long run, people appear to have more confidence in the current Presidency, in spite of certain complaints here and there, but all the same, if you look at all the hues and cries coming out since this probe started at the National Assembly, there have been increased calls by Nigerians for the interventionist agency to be reverted to the Presidency as it used to be because right now, the agency under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, there appears to be this constant clash between the agency and the Ministry they keep accusing each other, so we believe that if the agency is reverted to where it used to be, there might be some reasonable control over the agency and this conflict between these two government bodies might be minimised,’ he said.