The Executive Director, Finance and Administration of the Niger Delta Development Commission NDDC, Alabo Boma Iyaye, has appealed to traditional rulers in the region to play a key role in checking the activities of oil thieves.
Iyaye made this appeal during an interactive session with members of the Rivers State Council of Traditional Rulers at their Council Headquarters in Port Harcourt.
He also charged the Monarchs to assist the Federal Government and security agencies in curbing oil theft and pipeline vandalism in the region.
The NDDC EDFA stated that “We need the traditional institution to assist the government and the security agencies to protect our oil assets. Your majesties, you have very big roles to play to protect our oil assets and projects in the state.
“If there is no oil theft, there will be more allocation for the Niger Delta. I urge you all to try as much as you can to protect our resources and stop economic sabotage in our region.”
While acknowledging the importance of traditional institutions, Iyaye explained that “We recognize the importance of the traditional rulers. Addressing this council today is a great privilege. It is like addressing the entire Rivers State through traditional rulers, representing the 23 Local Government Areas of the state.
“Rivers State is one of the major oil producers in Nigeria, contributing about 33 per cent of the oil revenue of the country. No government can afford to disregard the state.
“I want to assure you that 2024 will be a better year for all of us. The NDDC Board will meet with you again at the appropriate time to exchange ideas. The National Assembly has approved over 300 billion in the budget for the Niger Delta and the NDDC board will deploy the money for development projects in the various states.
In his remarks, the state Representative on the Board of NDDC, Chief Tony Okocha, affirmed that “the NDDC has had a negative trajectory over the years but we assure you that this new NDDC, through the initiatives of the current board will bring positive change.
“We have started the process of change which conforms with President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s Renewed Hope Agenda. This interactive session is an indication that we have set the ball is rolling.”
Okocha lamented that the state had about 953 uncompleted projects, noting that the interaction would help to find out what happened.
According to him “Why were the projects abandoned? One of the reasons is the frequent change in the NDDC leadership. The issue of non-payments of contractors is also part of the problem.
“The NDDC will step up its efforts in developing human capital, even as it builds more infrastructure in the Niger Delta region. Human capital development has more advantages than infrastructural development. Even though they complement each other.”
Describing the interactive session from the NDDC as a welcome development, the Chairman of Rivers State Council of Traditional Rulers and Paramount Ruler of Emohua Kingdom, Nyeweli Ohna Sergeant Awuse, noted that the gesture was a sign of respect for the traditional institution.
Awuse said “We are elated and appreciative of the move to meet the leadership of traditional institution in Rivers State. The NDDC has had so many problems in the past but change has come. I thank Mr. President for what he is doing, a quick glance at the Board of the NDDC shows that the members were carefully selected.
“This is the first time that the NDDC is reaching out to the Rivers State Council of Traditional Rulers for an interactive session. We are not taking this gesture for granted and we will give them our support and pray they discharge their duties well for the Niger Delta region.”