Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
The acting Executive Director Project (EDP), Interim Management Committee of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Cairo Ojougboh, has revealed that the Commission will soon embark on the resettlement of over two million victims of the humanitarian crisis in the Niger Delta.
Ojougboh, who made the disclosure after courtesy visit on the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fasola in Abuja, lamented that though budgetary allocation has been fixed, there is urgent need to help resettle the over 280 households submerged by floods that occurred from October.
“The most important thing is that the NDDC has stabilised, functioning properly and well-focused to what it is supposed to do. Each of the departments is well repositioned for the greater delivery of services to the people. Most of the problems and issues we had at the beginning are resolved now,” Ojougboh said.
“There is stability now, apart from the administrative one, and we are looking at the possibility of how to identify and honour the past genuine obligations of the Commission and how we can ameliorate the hardship of the people suffering within the Niger Delta area.
“You know that the rain just stopped, the floods are receding and most of the indigenes that took shelter at the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps are beginning to go back home, but they would be faced by dangerous reptiles and pests that have occupied their homes with damaged property. We have to find a way to resettle them.
“This issue of repositioning derives from the importance of having a medical doctor running the project department of the Commission because it is a community health issue. We have over 280 communities in the Niger Delta completely submerged and we have to do everything possible to send them back home.
“We won’t stop after the resettlement, but to project to the future on how to stop the catastrophe from happening every year. We don’t know what the budgetary figure is going to be like, but the management has agreed to execute the project. The states mostly affected in the Niger Delta by the flood are Bayelsa, Delta, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Ondo, Abia and other areas below sea level in those areas.
“The population affected by the humanitarian crisis since October this year is well over two million persons. These are the category of people without mattresses, no food to eat and probably nowhere to lay their heads. The Commission cannot just fold its hand and sit down to watch,” he stated with concern.
On the visit to the Minister of Works and Housing, Ojougbo said: “We visited to fortify areas of mutual benefit and collaborations. What necessitated the visit is that since the functions of the Ministry and the NDDC overlap and intertwine, we went to discuss issues and areas we can work together.
“One of the problems we noticed is that there is a sort of conflict between the NDDC and other tiers of government. In some states, the NDDC will award contract, the state and local governments will award the same contract. In some roads, NDDC and the Ministry will be on the same road. We need to harmonise the projects so that we won’t pay contractors twice for the same job done.
“At times, it may be a genuine mistake of the NDDC and Ministry paying contractors on the same job, but the truth is that it has happened once or twice in the past, especially in some states like Edo, among others. The good thing, however, is that the Ministry is now prepared and well positioned in the zone. East West road is the reserve of the Ministry of Niger Delta who has awarded it,” he said.
The APC chieftain used the opportunity to dismiss insinuations that he is not appropriate for the job, arguing that he is the best person to head the project department of the Commission tasked with the provision of humanitarian services.