Nigeria: Examining Our Development Commissions

11 December 2019

If we look deeply, we will discover that history has the answers to all of our problems. Indeed, the whole problems of the world, but do we care?

The insatiable nature of man has ensured that man keeps repeating the same mistakes over and over again. History has made us to understand that there is no power that is permanent. Check them out: The ancient Greeks, Vikings, Roman, Russia, Germany, France, Turkey, Japan, Mali, Songhai, Ghana, Benin, Oyo and others. All of them have been at the peak at one point in their history and all of them have been brought to their knees severally.

No condition is permanent, in the fifties and sixties, we had people postulating that the leadership of this country will perpetually emanate from the land of the rising sun. Today, the situation is different. Will man ever learn his lessons? Now we are hearing that the leadership must remain in a given region because they are the ones with the numbers and born to rule! How myopic.

If you continue to entrench mediocrity over merit, sentiments over objectivity and personal interest over general public good, you will be tilting the balance and this cannot be sustained over time. The people we have in leadership at the National Assembly are not thinking in this direction and that is why they introduce crazy policies and bills that have no value to the overall good of the country.

We must sort out these differences before we can begin to make meaningful movements forward. Our leaders are not seeing this and it is so bad. Every part of the country is blessed in one way or the other with resources, the reasonable way to deal with such situations is to treat them in line with areas of comparative advantage. When you abandon your area and begin to covet what others have in their areas, you are not doing the union any good.

Some areas have developed as a result of migration, some as a result of colonial headquarters instituted by the British. Another category is made up of those that were made capitals through state creations; certainly some categories have been favored. There is a category that has been abandoned with its land lying fallow, and no idea of how to make it productive. This is where the Federal Government should come in, by putting in place measures that will make these hidden potentials to become manifest.

We should examine our development commissions and run them in that order. Actually, the idea of a development commission started with the Willinks Commission report of 1958, particularly set up to identify the challenges besetting the minority ethnic nations, especially as it concerned the Niger Delta region. Unfortunately, as soon as the baton was handed over to Nigerians, our big brothers forgot their minority brothers and their challenges. This led to the revolt by Adaka Boro and his colleagues, and subsequently, others.

Given the peculiarities of Niger Delta terrain, there is the need for a special "Marshall Plan" arrangement to tackle the challenges, in line with the environmental demands. With the influx of oil drilling activities, the situation worsened and remained so till date. All promises of clean ups have remained unfulfilled yet there exists a body known as the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC.

It is very important for clean ups to be done and the region restored to its pure and clean state, as it was before the invasion of the carpetbaggers. It is something that should be of concern to every well meaning citizen of this country. Without oil despoliation, the Niger Delta region possesses great potential for tourism and other water based businesses. The Niger Delta Development Commission that was created to address these challenges is not operating in line with the peculiar needs of the people. The commission was programmed to fail right from the start because of the way it was structured. It is placed under the direct supervision of the Presidency and so, has become an avenue to service party members and government loyalists. Nobody asks questions because the people that are supposed to do the questioning are the ones benefiting from the pillage; meanwhile, the people suffer.

Why don't we remove the NDDC from the clutches of the Presidency and allow it to operate under the strict rules of good corporate governance? Why is the government not meeting up with the constituted funding requirements? Why are the real oil producing communities not involved in activities of the NDDC?

Why have governments neglected this category of people? The powerful people, the bigger ethnic nations are directing these benefits to their areas, and are not caring about the situation of the downtrodden in this neglected area. They claim that it is leaders of the Niger Delta that have mis-managed the funds and I ask: who are these Niger Delta leaders representing? Are they not the stooges of the big ethnic nations?

As it is now, if you are not a traitor to the cause of the Niger Delta or the South South, the Nigerian leadership will not accept you as their friend. Our leaders from the big ethnic nations must take heed, because what they sow, they will reap. There should be fairness to all ethnic nations of the country, and no one should be cheated. Now they have set up the Northeast Development Commission and they are using funds generated from the Niger Delta for the rehabilitation of self inflicted ravaged areas. Damages that their own people have deliberately caused, and avoidable catastrophes that any good government could have handled.

Meanwhile, the NDDC is under funded. Very soon, it will become the norm, every community will be advocating for a development commission, thereby undermining the purpose for which the development commission was created in the first place. What a country! The challenges of the north are very different from those of the south; the government can introduce measures to correct defects in education, extreme poverty, religious fanaticism, female rights, agric empowerment and others.

Indeed it is very necessary for government to institute development plans in every area but each region, state or ethnic group should undertake the mission according to its resources and needs. That is the fair way out to a productive future.

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