In the recent past, so much drama has played out at the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, that interventionist agency created during the regime of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, to address development challenges in the Nigeria Delta region.
The drama is becoming endless. There have been belly-aching revelations of the quantum of graft in the commission which is currently being supervised by Senator Godswill Akpabio, the minister of Niger Delta Affairs.
While Akpabio is struggling to defend his actions at the NDDC since he secured the presidential authority to sit over the affairs of the NDDC, the core responsibilities of his ministry seem to be suffering. The major duties expected of him as minister seem to have taken the back seat. For Akpabio, it is NDDC all the way and nothing else matters.
Various stakeholders in the region have accused the minister of spending more time trying to micro-manage the NDDC, instead of facing his main job in the ministry. The stakeholders are worried that critical projects like the East West Road has become abandoned and forgotten by the ministry because Akpabio who ought to do the needful, is more concerned about what projects were being awarded at the NDDC and how the commission’s funds should be managed.
The worst and most worrisome is the Calabar-Itu end of the East-West Road which is now a serious death trap. In the past, the NDDC had intervened and whenever they did, the road users would have some temporary relief. But even that temporal, emergency intervention has not noticed in a long while, largely because of the ugly developments in the commission.
As it stands now, the Calabar-It Road has not just been abandoned by the Niger Delta ministry, it has also been abandoned by motorists. Those wishing to travel to and from Calabar now prefer to use the water routes, from Oron, Akwa Ibom State.
But those who have no choice than to use the Calabar-Itu Road are compelled to sleep on the road for days. It has become impassable. This is really shameful.
Only a few weeks ago, there were reports that the federal executive council approved about N20billion for work to commence at on the East West Road. Cheering as the news sounds, it is left to be seen how Akpabio intends to handle this, when up till now, his eyes have not left the NDDC.
It is our candid view that the minister should begin to concentrate on such projects as the East West Road and other critical infrastructure that will be of immense benefit to the Niger Delta people, and allow those legally entrusted with the management of the NDDC to do so. Mr President has graciously listened to the cry of the Niger Delta people on the state of the East West Road. But it will only take the dedication of the minister to give expression to the good intentions of the president in approving the whooping N20 billion for the project.
We urge the minister to use the same zeal he has employed in micro-managing the NDDC to also run the affairs of his ministry so that the people can benefit. To do otherwise would mean that his major interest is in the multi-billions that accrue to the NDDC and not service to the Niger Delta people. Akpabio needs to redeem his fading image very fast. He should start with the worsening section of the Calabar-Itu Road, which is a part of the East West Road.