Over the years, there has been controversy surrounding the provision of only three per cent of oil companies”s expenditure as funding for oil bearing communities in the Petroleum Industry Bill.
There have equally been rages from different quarters, while energy experts blame state governors in the region and the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, for the lack of development in the communities.
In fact, many sections have come up with agitation for 10 percent equity. Some argue, however, that it is stochastic because if you have equity in a business the only thing you get is dividend. And dividend depends on retained earnings. No profit, no dividend and what determines profit is the cost.
To put these agitations to rest, President Muhammadu Buhari constituted a new board of the NDDC and called for an unsuspicious working relationship with the critical stakeholders of the region.
The host communities said it welcomed the substantive board appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari and praised the Honourable Minister of the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, Umanah Okon Umanah for his dexterity and calmness in following through his agenda for the region.
Worthy of note is that the commission has never been so badly managed until the last four years which can safely be described as the years of the locust.
It is also on record that years of mismanagement and massive misappropriation of the NDDC funds have eroded citizen’s interest in the affairs of the commission, it will also be beneficial to point out that the NDDC as an interventionist agency is not a complete failure as currently projected.
The Board is now led by the Chairman, Ms. Lauretta Onochie, who is ready to work with Stakeholders in the Niger Delta region. Judging by her antecedents in the State house, Lauretta will collaborate with the stakeholders in the Niger Delta community in order to reposition and ensure that the Commission becomes an effective interventionist agency.
Though time is needed for this new management team, under Onochie to birth a solid and purposeful template for the region to take off from, it is also pertinent to note that the Board is in safe hands under Onochie.
Under Onochie, the indigenes will be properly integrated as part owners of the projects. She will guide against sabotage. Yes, Lauretta Onochie is a politician and a member of the APC, however, she will put away party partisanship and run the NDDC according to the letters establishing it.
This will be to the foremost interests of the Niger Delta region, instead of using the funds as settlement for the Abuja boys and state governors of the region?
Truly, it is no secret that NDDC funds have been used to settle politicians and for election purposes in the past; under Onochie funds will be properly expended.
Onochie was once quoted to have urged stakeholders in the region to support the board to enable them actualise the mandate of the Commission.
It is imperative that all stakeholders in the Niger Delta region, including the staff of the Commission, support the vision of the new leadership in NDDC, led by Lauretta Onochie.
On assuming office, she appealed to Niger Deltans to be part of the changes that were beginning to manifest in the drive to reposition the NDDC.
Give it to her: Onochie is a brave woman, who is known to put politics and personal interest aside, when the need arises.
The chairman was quoted to have said: “I urge all our stakeholders to embrace the new spirit of change so that we can all join hands to turn things around for good in the Niger Delta region. We need the support of everyone in this quest to fast track the development of the region.”
Under her, NDDC will be run according to the purpose for which it was established. That is: to ameliorate the deplorable conditions caused by oil drilling activities in the region.
Under her leadership, NDDC will chart a new course to enable all stakeholders bring positive changes in the Niger Delta region. This is important and everyone needs to be on board for the region to achieve the goal of taking Nigeria’s oil rich region to greater heights.
Under Onochie, the Commission would carry out training and skills acquisition programmes for the youths and execute projects across the Niger Delta region, irrespective of political or ethnic inclinations.
Olamide Adeniji is a member of the editorial team of TheScript Newspaper