By Inyali Peter, Calabar
The Chairman of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba has said that the sustainable solution to the crisis in the Niger Delta region is the development of the area.
Ndoma-Egba who spoke over the weekend with Journalists in Calabar said that when the region is developed and the youths are gainfully engaged, the incessant crisis in the region will naturally die as majority of those behind the crisis will become too busy to think of committing crime.
The NDDC chairman who reiterated the commitment of the President Buhari administration to look for a lasting solution to the continuous agitation from the oil rich area, however noted that no development can be achieved in a crime prone area. He advised militants to sheath sword and give peace a chance.
According to him, “I have said it many times that the solution to the crisis in the region is development. When the place is developed and our youths are gainfully engaged, nobody will want to take the risk of kidnapping or blowing oil installations again.
“If for instance people are able to make millions of naira from ICT from the comfort of their homes, nobody will want to risk his life to carry weapon around when he knows he can really make enough money from hardwork.
“I want to assure you that the President Buhari’s administration is very committed to looking for a lasting and sustainable solution to the Niger Delta challenges. Already, you can see that the Acting President has visited the region twice in the past two months to engage the stakeholders. We will develop the region. The government only need the support of everybody”.
He disclosed that the commission is consulting with Governors from the region who form part of the NDDC Advisory Committee to draw a master plan on how to develop integrated economy for the region.
“Once upon a time, the journey from Calabar to Ogoja was 45 minutes, Calabar to Port Hacourt was about 1:52 minutes. But what happened today that from Calabar to Ogoja or Port Hacourt is now a whole day journey? We need to develop integrated economy for our region. We’re meeting with governors from the area to see how we can achieve this”, he said.
The former Senate leader promised that under his watch, the NDDC will no longer be a “contract stock exchange” but will return to it core mandate as a development agency.
He said that, “NDDC is not just a contract awarding agency. It was created with the core mandate of developing the Niger Delta region. That is what you will see under my watch. As we speak, NDDC has over ten thousand contracts and in some instances, you will see how a particular person is awarded seventeen contracts in a day using different companies. Things like these will no longer happen.
“Nigerians will see a refocused NDDC committed to developing the region. We will invest in ICT because everything is going digital. We will build an integrated economy for the region and our people will be sent to school”.
Reacting to the recent allegation my ex-militant that the commission has terminated some contracts awarded to them by the past administration, he said that “We are reviewing all the contracts and any contract that was genuinely awarded will be revalidation. I just want to appeal to them and other stakeholders to corporate with us”.