From Tony John, Port Harcourt
President Muhammadu Buhari commissioned the headquarters building of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) on Thursday, 25 years after the groundbreaking ceremony for its construction.
The President commended the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, for his steadfastness in ending many years of renting by the Commission and its attendant profligacy.
The President, who commissioned the building in a virtual attendance from the Council Chamber of the State House, noted that the land was acquired by the Oil Mineral Producing Areas Development Commission (OMPADEC) in 1996 but was abandoned after series of design amendments.
‘In 2015, as part of our administration’s cardinal objective to kill corruption, some critical reforms were embarked upon, part of which was a holistic reform of the NDDC for greater service delivery for the people of the region,’ the President said.
‘To achieve this, I reassigned the supervision of the NDDC to the Hon Minister of Niger Delta Affairs for administrative efficiency. Second was the appointment of forensic auditors to review the operations of the Commission from inception to 2019 and to ensure that the appropriations made to the NDDC are commensurate with what is on the ground.’
President Buhari, while commending the minister for ensuring the historic completion of the building, urged the management to commit the rent savings to ‘other areas of need in the region’.
‘I, therefore, use this opportunity to commend the Honourable Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, for providing the required leadership that saw to the completion of this edifice.
‘Today, we are handing over to the people of Niger Delta a befitting head office complex for present and future use. Consequently, huge yearly rentals would now be saved and deployed to other areas of need in the region.
‘I commend the management and staff of the NDDC for staying the course and keying into the reform agenda of our administration. I am particularly pleased to note the cordial relationship between the NDDC and the National Assembly and hope that this relationship will be strengthened further for the benefit of the people of the Niger Delta region,’ the President stated.
The Governor of Imo State, Hope Uzodinma, thanked the President for the completion of the building, promising that the nine state governors under the purview of the Commission would continue to support his development efforts.
In his remarks, Minister of Niger Delta Affairs Akpabio noted that the completion of the NDDC building signals the President’s commitment to the development of the oil region and ending of the activities of corrupt public officials, who had neglected to connect offices to the national grid over many years in order to seek rent on the fueling of generators.
‘You will be remembered by this gesture and generations will never forget you,’ the minister said.
Akpabio urged leaders, traditional rulers and youths in the region to support the Buhari administration so that it would complete most of the abandoned projects of previous administrations, including the Second Niger Bridge.
He warned that persistent fights and petitions among leaders must be shelved for development.