12 January 2016, Abuja – Following the sack of the last board members of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, the Federal Government is planning to restructure the commission into a holistic development agency to be manned by core professionals rather than politicians in order to transform the Niger Delta region.
The Presidency recently relieved Dr. Henry Ogiri, Executive Director, Finance, and Tuoyo Omatsuli, Executive Director, Projects in the NDDC of their appointments, paving the way for the newly-appointed acting MD, Mrs. Ibim Semenitari, to run the agency alone in the interim.
The unceremonious removal two weeks ago, of the two men, who were seen as indispensable following their retention when the former MD, Mr. Bassey Dan-Abia was removed, completes the sack of the board, which was empanelled by President Goodluck Jonathan in December 2013.
Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, whose office supervises the commission, confirmed in a telephone chat with Vanguard, that the Federal Government would beam its searchlight on the activities of the commission in its bid to make it serve the needs of the region better.
Describing the NDDC as being in bad shape, Lawal lamented that the debt profile of the agency, which he said had not done much to transform the Niger Delta since its inception, had risen to N300 billion due to many contracts yet to be completed in most cases.
Lawal regretted that the organisation had lost its focus of serving primarily as a strategic development vehicle but served more as a political organisation, thereby denying the people of the area the real benefits for which it was set up.
The SGF said: “We have to reorganise NDDC to serve as a strategic development organisation to be able to address the peculiar needs of the region and its people.
“As part of the re-organisation, we are going to beam our searchlight on the commission’s activities and see how best to reposition the agency for better performance. We will do whatever is necessary to put NDDC in a better shape for the overall development of the area.
“I can tell you that the Federal Government is very sympathetic to the Niger Delta because of its peculiar terrain and we need to take urgent steps to put things right in the place.”
On why it took some time before the NDDC management was sacked, he explained that the government needs to study the situation in the commission before intervening.
On the complaints by some of the nine states that they had been marginalised by the sacking of their natives on the board and the appointment of an acting MD, the SGF said the action was a temporary one and assured that none of the states would be short-changed.