(By Iheanyi Ezinwo, Founder of Notable Outcome)- As mixed reactions trail the recent order by President Muhammadu Buhari to probe the financial transactions of Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Hon.OCJ Okocha, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, has commended the president for the initiative. been commended for the initiative.
Speaking with the fonder of Notable Outcome in Port Harcourt, Hon. Okocha, SAN, who was the first Rivers man to become the National President of Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, explained that time has come for Nigerians to know exactly what is happening in the government institution, especially against the background that development is taking too long to come to the Niger Delta.
“Our people are wallowing in abject poverty; we are having difficulty moving from place to place. The major roads they said they are going to build from here to Bonny, and from here to Brass , they have not been built. When you go to Akwa Ibom and Cross River State, you will see similar complaints.
“You go to Delta, the story is the same: and we are still in difficulty and development is taking too long to come to the Niger Delta. We have not got a fair deal because bulk of money that goes to Federation Account comes from here. And those concerned should ensure they give people of the Niger Delta a fair deal.
The former Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice in Rivers State, who maintained that it was welcome in the nature of doing things, to investigate and know exactly what is happening in any government institution particularly a case like the Niger Delta Development Commission, added that all the rumours that have surrounded the NDDC and how monies have been either appropriated , misappropriated and under – appropriated, have made the probe a welcome development.
“I support the forensic probe so that we can get to the root of the matter. The way it is sounding now, forensic probe indicate that something more than the routine auditing of accounts is being undertaken. We must commend the president; let him audit the NDDC, let us know exactly what is going on there.
“So it is good that we find out what is going on so that the people of Niger Delta can be satisfied that monies are being duly released as and when due. Second, that the contractors who have received monies have performed in terms of fulfilling the terms and conditions of their contract by delivering the projects for which they have been paid for.
“And third, to disabuse this rumour that some people are just collecting money. for political purposes and to settle certain interests. And then, over and above it all, that the purposes for which the NDDC was set up are being actualized, so this is why it is important to investigate and know exactly what is happening there.
The decorated legal practitioner further clarified on the kind of development that the people of Niger Delta are yearning for.
“ I have said that NDDC should embark on heavy development and infrastructural projects, not on scholarships, not transport , not what they call empowerment and skills acquisition, and all such things. Let us have bridges, let us have roads , let us have shore reclamation projects, let us have those projects that are heavy. Infrastructural projects that will really transform the Niger Delta.
“Much of Netherlands is built on reclaimed lands. So it is shocking to me that nearly 20 years of NDDC, neither you nor I can point at anything that they have done. Our people should continue to make the point that we need to see the impact the NDDC has made in our region”, he further emphasized, challenging the people of Niger Delta, not to keep quiet in the circumstance because, according to him, “part of the money this region is contributing to the Federation Account should come back but it has not been so.”