The Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, has been charged to widen its horizon and venture into industrial activities, such as investing in the building and running of modular refineries, to secure the future of the people of the Niger Delta. This was the view of Senator Ita Enang, who represents Uyo (North East) Senatorial District of Akwa Ibom in the upper chamber of the National Assembly.
Senator Enang, who is also the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Rules and Business, was speaking at the just concluded retreat of the board and management of the NDDC at the Ibom Le Meridien Hotel, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State. He said that the NDDC should not concentrate only on building roads and other infrastructure but must begin to make investments that would outlive oil production in the Niger Delta.
"It may look like a tall order but that is the way to go to ensure a sustainable development for the oil-rich region. The truth is that oil is not going to be important forever. So, we must begin to prepare for life after oil. We have to keep something for our children who may have to live in a world where oil is no longer relevant," he said.
Senator Enang cited the case of the South-East, a geo-political zone now struggling with dwindling finances because coal which used to be its key natural resource had lost relevance. He warned that the mistake made by the South-East by not building on the gains of coal to cushion its economic base, should not be repeated with the case of oil in the Niger Delta region.
Speaking on the budget of the NDDC, Senator Enang decried a situation where the National Assembly usually passed the estimates very late. He blamed the delays on both the lawmakers and the NDDC, noting that the budget should be submitted on time. He also advised the NDDC management to endeavour to carry members of the National Assembly along while preparing the budget so as to reduce areas of disagreement.
He noted that it was wrong to be passing the budget of the commission one month to the end of the financial year. "A budget being implemented a year after it is passed is wrong and in fact illegal. Technically, it is unlawful for the NDDC to be implementing the 2013 budget late into 2014," he said.
Senator Enang urged the NDDC management to strive to reverse the trend by submitting its budget on time. He said that the 2014 budget should not be allowed to suffer the same handicap as the ones of the previous years, adding that it was regrettable that while the Federal Government's budget was increasing that of the NDDC was decreasing. "It is illogical because the funding of the commission should be commensurate with the receipts from oil sales," he said.