The Conference of Presidents-General of Niger Delta Ethnic Nationalities (CPGNDEN) has urged President Muhammadu Buhari “to keep his promise and inaugurate a substantive board for NDDC following the submission of the forensic report, and in line with the law establishing the agency,” noting that the Niger Delta was in dire need of development which the absence of the board has so far stalled.
In a communique issued after its meeting in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, at the weekend, which was read by its President, Professor Benjamin Okaba, CPGNDEN also contended that the running of the NDDC by a sole administrator was contrary to the law establishing the commission.
CPGNDEN membership cuts across Isoko Development Union; Urhobo Progressive Union; Oron Nationality; Ndokwa Nation; Itsekiri Nation; Ogoni Nation; and Ijaw National Congress, amongst others.
CPGNDEN also kicked against moves to include Bauchi, Ogun and Lagos as new oil-producing states in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
The group described the bill as a calculated attempt to smuggle the affected states into the commission. The President of CPGNDEN, Professor Benjamin Okaba, said the entire exercise was aimed at distorting the Niger Delta as a geographical area.
Okaba said, “Our attention has also been drawn at the deliberate attempt to smuggle into the NDDC Act some non-contiguous states that defy the geographical definition of the Niger Delta as a geographical zone. This is totally condemnable and we state categorically that such states should be described as oil-producing and made to enjoy just 13 per cent derivation.”
According to CPGNDEN “The NDDC is meant to serve the development expectations of the people of the Niger Delta as an interventionist agency based on the age-long deprivation and environmental degradation, which is part of the recommendations of the Willinks Commission Report (of 1958).”
Present at the meeting were Professor Chris Akpotu (Isoko Development Union), A. A. Onoharigho (Urhobo Progressive Union), Ante Ita (Oron Nationality), Brig. Gen. Mike Ndubisi (rtd) (Ndokwa Nation), Edward Ekpoko (Itsekiri Nation) and Young Kigbara (Ogoni Representative), among others.