By Jonathan Ugbal
Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State was on Thursday, absent from the meeting of the Governors of the Niger Delta region with President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House in Abuja.
His deputy, Professor Ivara Esu was also absent which means Cross River State was not represented at the meeting where the President expressed worry over the persistent criticisms of the operations of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) which according to a statement issued by his media aide, Mr. Femi Adesina made him order a forensic audit of the operations of the organisation from 2001 to 2019.
Nine States make up the region. And, the Governors of Abia, Okezie Ikpeazu; Bayelsa, Seriake Dickson; Delta, Ifeanyi Okowa; Imo, Emeka Ihedioha and Rivers, Nyesom Wike as well as the deputies of Akwa Ibom, Moses Ekpo and Edo State, Philip Shuaibu were present at the meeting while Cross River was conspicuously absent.
And, President Buhari told the delegation led by Governor Dickson that what is presently on the ground in the South south region does not justify the huge resources that have been made available to the organisation.
“I try to follow the Act setting up these institutions especially the NDDC. With the amount of money that the Federal Government has religiously allocated to the NDDC, we will like to see the results on the ground; those that are responsible for that have to explain certain issues.
“The projects said to have been done must be verifiable. You just cannot say you spent so much billions and when the place is visited, one cannot see the structures that have been done. The consultants must also prove that they are competent,” the President said.
He admitted that developing the Niger Delta area required enormous resources compared to other parts of the country with firmer lands.
“I am acutely aware, with my experience, that projects in your area are very expensive; that is why if any job is given, we must make sure that the company is competent and has the capacity to do it well with experienced consultants,” the President added.
However, He said that he would wait for the report of the audit before deciding on the next line of action regarding the organisation.
Governor Dickson had earlier expressed the disappointment of other governors with the operations of the NDDC, which they said was characterised by poor choice of projects, shoddy handling, uncompleted jobs and lack of the required support for the efforts of the states and local government administration in the region covered by the organisation.
He, therefore, called for the repositioning of the NDDC in order to achieve the objectives for which it was set up.
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