Edo State Governor Adams Oshiomhole has assured the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) that President Muhammadu Buhari will ensure adequate funding of the commission to stop the problem of NDDC’s lack of financial backing for its projects.
Oshiomhole explained that the current leadership of the country would enforce the statutory obligations of the Federal Government to the NDDC, unlike previous administrations, adding that Buhari will comply with the laws guiding the funding of the commission.
The governor gave the assurance at Government House in Benin City while receiving directors on the Board of the commission who paid him a courtesy visit on Monday.
Mr. Toye Abosede, Head, Corporate Affairs of NDDC, in a statement in Port Harcourt on Tuesday, said Oshiomhole explained that the people of the Niger Delta region were expecting much from the commission as a result of the the problems of oil pollution and other forms of environmental hazards facing them.
According to him, “The current leadership of the country, unlike the previous administrations, will enforce the laws concerning the statutory obligations of the Federal Government to NDDC.
“The expectations of the people of the Niger Delta from NDDC are very high because of the varied challenges facing the inhabitants of the oil-producing region, especially with respect to oil and gas pollution as well as environmental hazards.
“The South-South Governors’ Forum will soon meet to articulate the way forward for the region. The governors from the South-South share a common passion with NDDC for the development of the region,” the governor said.
Earlier, Senator Bassey Ewa-Henshaw, Chairman of the NDDC Board, lamented that the activities of the commission were being hampered by funding challenges.
Ewa-Henshaw specifically said that over N800bn due to the interventionist agency had been withheld over the years, adding that N45bn ecological fund accrued to NDDC was also outstanding.
The NDDC Chairman explained that the withheld funds arose from the non-compliance with the Act establishing the commission.
Ewa-Henshaw said that NDDC has since inception been getting 10 percent instead of the statutory provision of 15 percent from the Federal Government.
He appealed to the governors of the states covered by the NDDC to push for the proper funding of the commission by the Federal Government and the oil companies.
The chairman regretted that major legacy projects that would have given the economy of the region a boost had suffered because of inadequate funding.
He said that the current NDDC Board inherited about 7,000 projects and a liability in excess of N1tr, including Interim Payment Certificates that were not paid.
Ewa-Henshaw said that in spite of inadequate funds, the NDDC Board had recorded some remarkable achievements in the completion of projects and the execution of development programmes.
“We have so far completed and commissioned five university hostel projects, awarded 1,021 overseas scholarships for Masters degrees and PhD programmes in Engineering and Sciences. Several other inherited projects are also in the process of being completed,” the chairman said.
Other members of the board who visited the Edo State governor were, Sir Bassey Dan-Abia, the Managing Director; Dr. Henry Ogiri, the Executive Director, Finance and Mr. Tuoyo Omatsuli, the Executive Director, Projects.