Fred Ezeh, Abuja
Elders of the Niger Delta region have raised an alarm over alleged plans by some “unpatriotic” persons within and outside the region to frustrate the effort to Federal Government to sanitise the financial records of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
They alleged that some people, within and outside the region and NDDC had vowed to effect a reverse of the presidential directives on forensic audit of NDDC.
Chairman, Nigerian Association of Mineral Producing Areas Development (NAMPAD), Prof. Jasper Jumbo, spoke on behalf of the elders at a press conference in Abuja, on Thursday.
He noted that youths of the region are unhappy with the effort of some people to thwart the effort of President Muhammadu Buhari, to sanitise the system.
He said: “We had to intervene on Wednesday morning to avoid a breakdown of law and order in Port Harcourt headquarters of NDDC where youths mobilised and blocked the gate of NDDC, thereby denying workers and visitors entry.
“Our position is that neither the NDDC officials, Ministry of Niger Delta nor any other interested party should play political games with the forensic audit of NDDC otherwise, the boys would carry out unfriendly actions.
“We are nobody’s slaves in Nigeria. We want to see what the funds released to Niger Delta region through NDDC so far was used for. Over N2 trillion was released to NDDC since it was established and no commiserate projects to justify such huge resources.
“Youths are not empowered, there is poverty is on the increase, dilapidated infrastructures, degraded environment and general drop in standard of living of the people.
“We ought to have gone beyond this stage if our resources was well utilized. We ought to have massive industries that could absorb thousands of youths, create wealth for the people of the region and improve the general well-being of the people.
“Recently, the elders met with the management of Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) at National Assembly. We challenged them to fulfil their constitutional obligation of paying three percent of its annual income to NDDC.
“We succeeded in our demands and close to a trillion was paid to NDDC by NLNG. Up till now, no one could account for the money.”
They, however, appreciated President Buhari for his desire to better the living standard of Niger Delta people through his policies and programmes so far and promised to support him to succeed.
The elders also encouraged the Minister of Niger Delta, Godswill Akpabio, to maintain his position and ensure that forensic audit is conducted in order to sanitise the financial records of NDDC.