By Henry Umoru & Dayo Johnson
THE Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, said yesterday that the Federal Government was owing it N700 billion.
It however, stated that the debt accumulated during the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo and his successor, late Umaru Musa Yar’Adua.
NDDC Managing Director, Bassey Dan Abia made this known in an interview with newsmen in Port Harcourt, adding that as a result of the huge debt, the commission had over N300 billion worth of Interim Payment Certificates, IPC, which it was unable to redeem.
Abia who spoke through his Special Assistant on Youths, Culture and Sports Affairs, Mr George Turner, however, hailed President Goodluck Jonathan for not owing the commission a kobo at the moment.
He said that Jonathan’s bold steps had helped reverse the negative trends in the funding of the commission even as plans had reached advanced stage to complete over 6000 projects inherited from the last NDDC board.
The managing director however, asked oil companies in the Niger Delta, to improve on their present level of their funding obligations to the NDDC, pointing out that in the last one year, the commission had been able to achieve remarkable progress on its performance by ensuring that staff changed their attitude as they now see and take the NDDC as theirs.
Dan Abia further noted that the incessant cases of clash among senior members of the commission which affected the administration of the commission as well as deprived it from focusing on its core mandate of pushing for the development of the Niger Delta region had stopped.
He said, “When the present board was inaugurated, President Jonathan gave it the sole mandate of completing all abandoned projects. We have been able to keep faith with that mandate by delivering on some uncompleted projects such as the 10 University projects in Uyo, Calabar, Benin, Port Harcourt and Otuoke among others”.
According to him, some of the major achievements of the NDDC include the completion of its permanent site which had been lingering since the commission was set up.
On the issue of capacity building, he said that the matter was a top priority.
“At the moment, some 3,000 youths are under going training on oil spill management while 45 others have been sent to South Africa for training on small and medium scale businesses.
“Our focus is on how to gradually prepare our youths and show them examples of how to make money through genuine means. Through all these measures, we have been able to deliver on the central issue of restoring peace to the Niger Delta region by positively engaging youths in ventures and careers that would be useful to their own developmental needs.
“Other remarkable achievements recorded by the NDDC in the last one year, include the correction effected in the budgeting system of the commission by ensuring that they were prepared and passed early enough.”
He stressed that the NDDC achieved the feat through ‘’cordial relationship’’ with relevant stakeholders like the National Assembly and the Presidency .