The Niger Delta Development Commission NDDC was established by former president, Olusegun Obasanjo with the sole mandate of developing the oil-rich region. The NDDC was created largely in response to the demands of the Niger Delta people.
In the 1990s, some ethnic groups had confronted the Nigerian government and multinational oil companies such as Shell Petroleum Development Company SPDC in their guest for development of the region. The minorities of the Niger Delta have continued to agitate and articulate demands for greater autonomy and control of the area's petroleum resources.
They justified their grievances by making reference to the extensive environmental degradation and pollution from oil activities that have occurred in the region since the late 1950s. Even with the agitations by the youths, the region has remained highly underdeveloped.
Sometimes violent confrontations with the state and oil companies, as well as with other communities, have affected oil production, as youths deliberately disrupt oil operations in attempt to effect change. These disruptions have been extremely costly to the Nigerian oil industry, and both the multinationals and the federal government have vested interests in permitting uninterrupted operations. The NDDC was established as a result of these concerns and in an attempt to satisfy the demands of the people.
The commission, since its creation, has paraded a number of managing directors/chief executive officers. Each state of the region is also represented at the commission to allow for even distribution of developmental projects supposedly.
Year in, year out, the commission has continued to receive billions of naira in allocation from the federal government for the development of the oil producing communities in the nine states that form the Niger Delta region. In 2018 alone, the NDDC received N71.20billion from the federal government.
Unfortunately, despite receiving humongous sums of money for the purpose of development, the commission is yet to live up to its sleeves. Abandoned projects litter the length and breadth of the Niger Delta. In some cases, contractors were not even mobilized to sites while in other places, contractors left the jobs half way.
It is worrisome that in most cases, the appointment of leaders into the commission is used as a tool for political settlement, thereby defeating the main purpose for which it was established. This is the major reason why there is a disturbing rate of abandoned projects while the officials who are supposed to be held responsible walk the streets unperturbed.
It is based on this backdrop that the appointment of Prof. Nelson Brambaifa, who is not a core politician, as the acting managing director of the commission is seen by many Niger Deltans as a welcome development. Brambaifa, a native of Agbere community in Sagbama local government area of Bayelsa state succeeded Mr. Nsima Ekere who resigned to contest the governorship election in Akwa Ibom state.
Though the emergence of Brambaifa was not devoid of politicking, we advise that he be given the free hands to operate and get positive results. He should ensure that all abandoned projects of the NDDC in all parts of the Niger Delta are completed while not losing sight on new key projects already outlined for execution.
We expect the new NDDC boss to live above board in his dealings with critical stakeholders, bearing in mind that the society holds personalities like him in high esteem and therefore expects nothing short of the best performance from him