The newly inaugurated President of pan-Ijaw so­cio-cultural organisation, the Ijaw National Congress (INC), Prof Benjamin Oka­ba, has said the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) is a huge wastage and diversionary agency for the region’s develop­ment.

He said the Federal Gov­ernment was paying lip ser­vice to the genuine concerns of the people of the region otherwise the government would have deployed inter­ventions directly to the com­munities in the area through appropriate ministries.

Okaba stated these on Sat­urday during an interview on Viewpoint, a phone-in live programme on Rhythm FM 94.7 Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, which was monitored by our correspondent.

The Bayelsa State gover­nor, Douye Diri, formally inaugurated the Okaba-led national executive of the apex Ijaw body on Friday, May 14, 2021, following their election on April 30, 2021 at the Ijaw House in Yenagoa, the state capital.

He pointed out that so much resources meant for development in the area had been frittered away in the running of the NDDC over the years with very little to show as physical achievements in the com­munities.

Okaba cited the humon­gous sums of money the management of NDDC spent to take care of themselves and workers as COVID-19 palliative, which were re­vealed in July 2020 during the public hearing conduct­ed by the House of Represen­tatives on alleged financial recklessness at the commis­sion.

It would be recalled that the then former acting Man­aging Director of the NDDC, Prof Kemebradikumo Pon­dei, had told the House Committee on NDDC that the commission expended N1.32bn as “COVID-19 relief funds for staff” despite being paid salaries during the pan­demic.

Pondei, who fainted in one of the probe sessions while answering questions, also stated that the com­mission spent a whopping N81.5bn between October 2019 and May 31, 2020.

However, Okaba, a Pro­fessor of Sociology at the Federal University, Otuoke, Bayelsa State, contended that such colossal amounts of money could have been used to build roads and pro­vide social basic amenities in the communities.

He said: “The NDDC is a wastage and it is diversion­ary. As a scholar, I have writ­ten copiously that the NDDC was unnecessary wastage. If government was serious they should send the bull­dozers and interventions straight to the appropriate ministries.

“Look at how much is used in the administration of the NDDC. You saw the palaver in the National As­sembly when somebody has to faint while defending some huge sums of money going into COVID-19 supply of palliatives and all that.

“Those monies, if di­rected to the communities for roads, water and other specifics, would have made more sense.”

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