Return the NDDC to the presidency

NDDCSir: The Federal Government of Nigeria should return the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to the presidency so that the negotiating instruments that will stimulate development, peace and goodwill in the region would be strengthened.

For lasting peace to take place in the Niger Delta, government must prioritise certain elements which promote peace and development. We decry a situation where government patronises individuals in the region who benefit from the conflicts in the region for personal gain and leverage.

It is not in the long-term interest of the Niger Delta for government officials to use official channels of communication to engage warlords and strong individuals in the region who in most cases make unreasonable demands on the institutions of state. The real issues bedevilling the region are issues of mismanagement, corruption and the inability of the government to listen to the yearnings of the people. This makes it possible for the huge earnings which accrue to the region to be frittered away.

The present administration will not be judged by the many deals it cut with warlords for temporary peace and development in the Niger Delta. What this administration will be judged by is how it helped to impact on the completion of the East-West Road, the development of our sea ports to boost trade, how it harnessed collective action to build vocations for the capacity building of farmers and fishermen, and how it helped with a blueprint for a post-oil Niger Delta. And the Federal government cannot do that on the assumption that the visit of the Vice President will be the silver bullet which will take away the problems of underdevelopment in the Niger Delta. It can do that by raising, rather than devaluing the bar on institutions like the NDDC, which it has relegated to the Ministry of the Niger Delta from the presidency.

The chiefs, local interest groups in the Niger Delta should present a common front beyond individual interests. These local interest groups should discourage pipeline vandalism as a tool for negotiation. Most of the funds being injected in the massaging of the egos of the conflict entrepreneurs in the Niger Delta can be better utilised for the development of the region.

• Rev. David Ugolor wrote from the Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ).

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