Going by the perception that the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) isn't living up to its responsibility in raising the standard of living of the people in the Niger Delta region, leaders of the Itsekiri ethnic nationality have therefore called for the total review of the NDDC Master Plan.
There have been many attempts in the past to improve the lives of the people of the region which led to the establishment of the commission, "but sadly, each effort ends with a very little or nothing to show for the time and resources spent so far."
These leaders of the oil-producing area in Delta State at a press conference yesterday in Lagos lamented that the goals and objectives on which NDDC was founded have been hugely defeated, adding that without going back to the cradle by thoroughly reviewing the Master Plan, the Commission would remain a failed project, while the supposed beneficiaries continue to suffer wanton lack in the area.
Human rights activist, Chief Rita Lori-Ogbebor, who spoke on their behalf, asked pertinently if the NDDC Master Plan has been followed since the inception of the inaugural board of the Commission on June 5, 2000, adding that till date, there is no evidence that the interventionist agency like NDDC was founded to assuage the suffering of the people of the Niger Delta.
According to the Igba of Warri, "We appreciate President Muhammadu Buhari for discussing the NDDC matter at the meeting he held with the governors of the Niger Delta states on the NDDC board appointments. He said the matter is a serious one that requires forensic auditing. It shows that the president went into the details and problems of the NDDC.
"This decision has saved the country and indeed the Niger Delta. The region could have been pushed into further crisis by a few greedy people. It could have painted the present administration in a bad light. The situation could have portrayed Buhari as a weak man without integrity or one who has abandoned the constitution.
"However, after the long fight, NDDC was created with a master plan. Today, we do not know what has happened to the plan. It seemed to have been abandoned. Billions have been sunk into the Niger
Delta cause. Where are the billions? Where is the development? Where is the master plan?"
"Are we still following the plan? What plan are we executing? Where are we now? That is why Buhari's action is commendable, and that is why we must review the master plan on which NDDC was founded if the agency must achieve any meaningful development in the region.
"We want a tripartite meeting between the state governors, the elders of the region and former President Olusegun Obasanjo-who would remind us from where we are coming as the creator of the agency- to review the master plan. It is only when he knows where we are coming from, that we will know where we are going."
The veteran journalist, who alleged that no meaningful development has taken place in the area since the inception of NDDC, added that unfortunately, the Commission's Master Plan was basically conceived as a tool for people of the region to actualise their common vision and build their future to the standard they desire, "but today, there is no good school, road, hospital, transport system among other social amenities in the area that lays the golden egg for the country, as the people suffer immense environmental degradation among other disaster in the area.
"NDDC was established because the area lacked basic infrastructure, which led to the perennial violence in the region. Presently, the Commission has failed in its responsibility to meet the people's need, and the only remedy is to go back to the basis by thoroughly reviewing the Master Plan on which the interventionist agency was created. We will be doing a series on the master plan soon. In the next few weeks, we shall be doing a series on the 'Niger Delta yesterday, today and tomorrow' on the way forward for the region."