Use NDDC to serve interests of Niger Deltans, Gov. Dickson tells Semenitari

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Bayelsa State Governor, Henry Seriake Dickson, on Tuesday in Yenagoa warned the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) against being used as a platform for servicing political interest.

According to him, the commission should be used to serve the interest of the Niger Delta people, while available resources should be channeled to projects that could affect the development and prosperity of the region.

Dickson tabled the demand during a courtesy call on him by the Acting Managing Director of NDDC, Ibim Semenitari and leaders of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC).

He also suggested that, the NDDC should collaborate with state governments in the region to execute priority projects that would serve as a catalyst for the socio-economic development of the region.

The Governor, who identified the three senatorial road projects in the state, as key to creating access to the Atlantic Ocean and economic prosperity, stressed that, the construction of such projects worth billions of naira would attract development and socio-economic progress to the state.

According to him, while the road from Nembe to Brass alone would gulp about N100 billion, “the Bayelsa economy will remain stifled, if there is no access to the sea, where its wealth lies.”

The governor commended the NDDC for the award of contracts in Bayelsa state, but however, decried the number of abandoned projects in the state, which he attributed to the development to the over-politicization of the activities of the commission.

“The NDDC should move away from the era of using the commission as a conduit to service the vested political interest, but rather NDDC should serve the interest of the Niger Delta people and channel available resources on projects that can affect the development and prosperity of the region.”

The Governor also called on the Federal Government to constitute the governing and advisory boards of the commission to enable governors and stakeholders of the region make inputs, concerning the award of critical projects that are beneficial to the people.

He said that “No doubt, contracts were awarded for development projects in Bayelsa, but they were abandoned after the payment of mobilization fees. So, in Bayelsa State, you have a litany of abandoned projects in every community, which is not fair.

“Beneficiaries of these contracts, who thought that the NDDC was just there as a cash cow for them to enrich their pockets at the expense of the impoverished people, who are in need of development is very unfair.”

Responding, Semenitari said, the purpose of her visit to Bayelsa was to assess on-going projects and identify areas of immediate intervention according to needs.

According to her, the NDDC has awarded a total of 28 regional projects since her assumption of office, out of which two have been commissioned, 20 on-going, while, six were yet to kick off.

While explaining that a total of 658 other projects have also been awarded covering shore protection, repair of roads, sand-filling, construction of jetties and electrification in Bayelsa State, she said the abandoned Akenfa bridge project in Yenagoa was awarded at the cost of N800 million, out of which 50 per cent mobilisation has been paid.

She condemned the kidnapping of an expatriate and the killing of two soldiers attached to SETRACO by gunmen last week, at the site of the Ogbia-Nembe road project, lamenting that, the development would stall the commissioning of the project earlier scheduled for April 29.

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