The Governor of Cross River State, Prof. Ben Ayade, has appealed to the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, to faithfully execute all the projects it allocated to the state in the 2016 budget.
The governor made the appeal yesterday at the Government House Calabar, when the Senate Committee on the Niger Delta and the NDDC directors led by the Acting Managing Director, Mrs Ibim Semenitari, paid him a courtesy visit. He was represented by the Deputy Governor, Prof. Ivara Esu, who said that the state deserved sympathy because it was disadvantaged among the Niger Delta states.
He said: “Cross River State is the most disadvantaged state in the Niger Delta because we do not receive a kobo from 13 per cent oil derivation. We, therefore, expect a lot of sympathy from your committee. When you are considering the budget, please, ensure that those projects that have been provided for in the budget are executed to the letter because that is the only way we are going to benefit.
“You know that our projects will be so few because the projects are distributed based on the quantity of oil produced by the states. So, for the few projects that have been allocated to us, we expect that they should be properly done and not abandoned.”
Prof Esu said that the state was counting on the continued goodwill of the NDDC which flourished during the leadership of Mrs. Semenitari. “We wish the NDDC’s Acting MD, who we have adopted as our daughter, will be the one to oversee these projects she started because we have implicit confidence in her ability. The last time she came here, we all gave her a standing ovation for all she has achieved within a short period of time.”
The Deputy Governor told the Senate Committee that ex-militants in Cross River State were not integrated in the rehabilitation scheme of the Federal Government’s Amnesty Programme. He regretted that the situation had resulted in the continued agitation of a militant group known as the Bakassi Strike Force.
In his remarks, the chairman of the Senate Committee, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi, said that they were in the state for a holistic investigation of NDDC projects. “We are here to assess the performance of NDDC. The Senate directed we should find out the impact of the NDDC on the lives of the people of the Niger Delta.” he said.
Senator Nwaoboshi explained that his committee oversights NDDC, the Amnesty Programme and the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, noting that the visit to Cross Rivers State to inspect NDDC projects was part of its oversight function.
He stated: “We have a record of abandoned projects in this state. We also have a record of those that have been completed and those that are on-going. We may not be able to visit all the projects, but we have randomly selected some and we are going to visit about ten. By the time we are through with the inspections, we will be in a good position to brief the Senate.
“We recognise the fact that the NDDC is an interventionist agency and because of that, we take its activities very seriously, especially as they relate to the development of the Niger Delta. We have just passed a budget of N241 billion for the Commission this year. I am aware that there are some projects for Cross River State and we still intend to capture more.”
Senator Nwaoboshi urged the Cross River State government to join in the important task of monitoring and supervising NDDC projects in the state. “I am aware that the Acting MD of the Commission has been liaising with the state government to capture the interest of the state in the budget.”
On the amnesty programme, Nwaoboshi said that his committee would investigate the affairs of the Amnesty Programme. He added: “We are going to have a public hearing on the 6th and 7th of October and we have called for memoranda from all interested parties. A lot of funds have been invested in the amnesty programme and it is only appropriate that we investigate how these funds have been applied.”