The governor of Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike has identified external influences as a major reason why the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) wasted trillions of dollars without achieving its mandates in the region.
He said the management of the commission was fond of bowing to external influences instead of focusing on its functions of lifting the region from poverty.
Wike said people were abusing the entire region because the commission wasted trillions of Dollars without lifting the masses of the region out of poverty or commensurate developmental projects on ground to show for the funds received.
He said: “The problem with us is that you allow people outside to control you. You want to have godfathers from East, West and North. NDDC is created for Niger Delta. Use the money for the people and region.
“They are abusing us that Niger Delta is a curse. Trillions of dollars have been spent, and we cannot say this is what we have spent the money on.
“Those Abuja portfolio contractors are part of the people controlling you. They tell you what to do and you do it for fear that they will remove you. But eventually, you will be removed. So, why not work for the people. When you’re removed, you’ll know you did your best for the region.”
The governor spoke when he played host to the Interim Management Committee of NDDC on courtesy visit to Government House, Port Harcourt on Tuesday.
A statement signed by the governor’s Special Adviser, Media, Kelvin Ebiri, said Wike also condemned the posture of some ethnic groups in the Niger Delta region that behaved as if they owned the commission.
Wike said the commission belonged to all states in the region and no one particular ethnic group could assert itself as the dominant owner of the NDDC.
Wike said members of those groups always kicked against the appointment of people to head the commission because they felt such persons were not from core Niger Delta States saying such attitude must stop.
He said: “Anybody can be appointed in Niger Delta. There are people who believe that if they appoint somebody from Edo or Cross River States for example, they say no. That those people are not the core Niger Delta states. We must have to stop that.”
The governor also said such people also left their states and came to Rivers to block the gates of the commission, cause crisis and frustrate economic activities.
“NDDC does not belong to any ethnic group in the Niger Delta region. It does not belong to anybody. There are people who have seen themselves that they are the owners of NDDC. They leave their state and come to NDDC to block NDDC gate .We are peaceful people, but nobody should push us to the point where we can tell you enough is enough.
“The next time they try it again to cause crisis in our state, I’ll mobilise our people against them. I am not saying if you have grievance with NDDC you shouldn’t seek how to settle it. But don’t use it to cause problem for us, to begin to make economic activities not to move on,” he said.
The governor challenged the new interim leadership to make a difference, change the current narrative of the commission serving outsiders interest and abandoning its core mandate of developing the region.
Wike also charged the interim management to always work with all the state governors in the region on equal footing, and without politics so that together, they could achieve desired development.
He said “Go and visit every governor because they are members of the governing council of NDDC and they are the leaders of the states. You don’t need to entangle yourself with unnecessary bickering, politicking. Show a difference.”
The governor asked the NDDC management to obey subsisting court order that made it mandatory for the commission to seek the consent of the state government before embarking on any project, particularly in Rivers State.
He warned that if the commission defied the state government the commission would be dragged to court for contempt.
He said: “I will not hesitate to tell the Attorney General to file contempt against officials of NDDC and NDDC itself. We will not hesitate. Because we have come to the time that Nigerians must understand we must follow rules.
“The only way you can talk about good governance is when you obey the rule of law. There cannot be good governance when there is nothing to show you obey the law. Good governance is predicated on the rule of law.
“I’ve always said to people, when you have the opportunity to make contribution to the development of your fathers land, you must see it as blessing God has given you. You must not see it as a way to set back your region.”
Wike also urged NDDC to send their partnership support towards the reconstruction of the ongoing dualisation of Eastern By-Pass Road where the NDDC permanent headquarters was located.