From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Elder statesman and chairman of Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), Edwin Clark, has urged Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, to stop interfering in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), operations.
He also called on President Muhammadu Buhari to set aside a special fund to complete the East West Road started by the administration of former president, Olusegun Obasanjo.
Clark, who spoke when he received the Interim Administrator of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Effiong Okon, and his team in the Interim Management Committee (IMC), eqaully wants the minister to live above personal interest and have the interest of the Niger Delta region at heart.
“The minister of transportation does not concentrate on NPA or NIMASA or Railways. The minister of state petroleum did not concentrate on NNPC. So, the problem we have, therefore, is the constant interference with the affairs of NDDC by the minister of Niger Delta. So, I do hope that in your performance of duties you should have a free hand.
“I was shocked when the minister announced that the East West road must be completed, N18 billion was voted for the ministry for capital project. And the minister said we are going to spend about N16 billion on the East West road and you have just confirmed it. There’s no provision anywhere even in the NDDC budget that part of the budget is to be used in the completion of the East- West road. East West road is one of the economic road in Nigeria, I see no reason why the Federal Ministry of Works should not be in charge of the East West Road. That is not the duty of NDDC, East-West road is the duty of the ministry of works. So we have been protesting that the Federal Government should make available special funds for that very important economic road. In the recent budget, Kano State alone has three roads within Kano costing about N60 billion to be constructed with our oil money. What is being done for us? Do we have to go and beg for money to build roads?”
Clark also appealed to the youths of the region to give peace a chance in order to allow for development.
The Interim Administrator gave assurance that the East-West road will be completed and commissioned in six months.
Meanwhile, the Commission has inaugurated two committees to facilitate reforms and drive projects in the Niger Delta.
A statement by Ibitoye Abosede, the commission’s Director of Corporate Affairs said the two committees are NDDC Reforms Committee and Project Commissioning Committee.
Anslem Agommuoh, NDDC’s Director of Information Technology, chair the reforms committee, while Mr Julius George, also a director in the Commission chairs the project commissioning committee.
The interim administration assured that the commission had prioritised completion and inauguration of big projects in the region.