The president, at the inauguration of the NDDC board in Abuja, urged the commission to rather concentrate on completing ongoing projects.
He said: “A body like NDDC should not just go into a voyage of contracts procurement but ongoing projects must be completed for people to benefit before new ones are awarded. There are just too many ongoing projects and we believe that you don’t even have enough manpower to manage the ongoing projects.”
According to him, Niger Delta people are not satisfied with the performance of the NDDC therefore, the commission must sit up to improve on its performance.
“You have a lot of responsibilities and for those of you from the Niger Delta who are even there, you know that the history of intervening agencies is legion. From three percent to one intervention or the other, if you aggregate the total amount of money the federal government has spent on this agency, it is enormous and I don’t believe that we have something on ground to show very clearly,” the president said.
He urged the board to ensure transparency, noting that with the new Freedom of Information (FoI) Act, Nigerians would beam their searchlight on the NDDC.
He also urged the board members not to tread the path of their predecessors, whose penchant was bickering rather than focus on developing the region.
“The former board at a time had to be dissolved because instead working with the management to make sure that people from the area benefit from the NDDC they were busy quarrelling over money. The money does not belong to the board members or staff; the money belongs to the people yet they were quarrelling. If the money that belongs to the people is being spent the way it should, there will be no reason why people should quarrel.
“There are guidelines in terms of procurement and managing of funds and if the managing director or executive director is doing things contrary to expectations, there are lines of reporting, there are lines of authority and I will expect you to follow. I don’t expect you to go and start quarreling. I expect you to be committed both so as to ensure that the people from the area benefit from the resources,” Jonathan added.
He called on all the governors from the region to meet regularly to make sure they monitor how NDDC is being run.
He also urged the chairman, the managing director, board members and the executive directors to work together to make sure that within this period, “Nigerians see clearly that you are totally committed to the development of the place.”
“Everything done by government body, the blame, if wrongly done, is on the head of the president. If you do badly, it is Jonathan that is probably using NDDC funds for election campaigns, that is what people will say. I will really look at your activities clinically, and I will not accept any aberration from the conventional and acceptable way of managing resources of the people,” he said.
Responding on behalf of other members, the board Chairman, Mr. Ewa Henshaw, thanked the president for finding them worthy for the assignment.
He noted that the board was aware of the criticisms trailing the performance of the commission for many years and, therefore, was prepared to change the image of the commission by instituting a regime of probity and accountability in the operation of the NDDC.
“By adopting a fresh approach and forging a new direction and focus we hope to create a new more positive image for the commission.
“We believe that the NDDC can become the veritable vehicle that it is intended to be for the upliftment the people of the Niger Delta; a vehicle by which their situation can be transformed from one of deprivation to one of prosperity and hope. You have already charted the course through your transformation agenda for the Nigerian nation,” he added.
– This Day