The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, Thursday, raised the alarm that the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, is currently on life support because of huge debt owed the commission by International Oil Companies, IOCs, operating in the region.
Akpabio disclosed this while chatting with journalists in Abuja, shortly after he received the Nigerian Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Tijani Muhammad-Bande in his office, said the Commission can barely pay salaries of Staff from what it is getting monthly as result of the debt.
He put the sum total of the debt owed the NDDC by the exploration companies at a whooping $5.6 billion and N649 billion.
The minister however disclosed that the Federal Government had already set up a committee headed by the Minister of Finance to recover those monies.
According to him, “As I speak now, the federal government has set up a committee headed by the Minister of Finance to recover monies that were owed to the NDDC, and at the last count, about $5.6 billion and about N649 billion are monies owed to the NDDC by oil companies.
“So the NDDC itself is on life support because what they get on a monthly basis is just enough to pay their salaries and maintain their offices but people are not aware”.
Receiving Muhammad-Bande, Senator Akpabio said President Muhammadu Buhari would be commissioning a 1050 bed hostel in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State by December 30th this year.
He also said that the President is also expected to commission another 132kv substation in Ondo state, which will supply power to about 5 local governments that have been in darkness for 14 years.
“On the 30th of this month, the President will commission one out of numerous hostels that we are building through the NDDC and donated to the Nigerian students, one of them is a 1050 bed hostel out of which 50 units will be for students living with disabilities.
“That has been completed with 24,000 gallons of water per day, two standby 1200kva generating sets, and 5000 vehicular space for parking and amazing for both boys and girls that has been completed.
“So, on 30th of this month we will be at the University of Uyo for the commissioning of the project by Mr President.
“Immediately after that, by January, we should be going to Ondo to commission a 132kva substation that will supply power to about 5 local governments in the state, and unfortunately, that 5 local governments have been in darkness for 14 years”, he said.
The Minister further stated that many projects have been completed in the Niger Delta region while many are still on-going, such as the East West Road that is expected to be completed by the end of next year.
“We have completed many projects also, the East-West road is on-going with about 41 bridges and we have moved it from 76 per cent complete that we met on ground to over 82 per cent as I speak now, and I believe that sections 1-4 which is a distance of 338km will be commissioned by Mr President by the End of Next year.
“So, a lot of changes are taking place in the region outside human capital development, we are also involved in skills acquisition, we have built skills acquisition centres in all the 9 states of the Niger Delta, and many of them have been completed”, he said.
Speaking earlier, Senator Akpabio sought collaboration with the United Nations on the areas of youth development, environment sustainability and many others.
The minister made a passionate appeal to the United Nations (UN) to consider giving the necessary support in the production of Malaria Vaccine to save millions of people that are dying from malaria related diseases every year in the Sub-Sahara region of Africa.
Sen. Akpabio who explained that the Sub-Sahara region of the continent has long been tagged as the ‘white man’s grave yard’ due to the devastating effect of malaria disease has been neglected for the last fifty years of medical advancement while Covid-19 have attracted so much attention.
According to the former minority leader, “healthcare delivery system is a major issue within the region and in Africa, Malaria kills millions of people every year more than Covid-19, adding that the Ministry would be very glad to partner the UN in the area of Climate change, Environmental issues, Social inclusion, Empowerment programmes and education to reduce the effect of underdevelopment occasioned by continuous oil exploration and degradation in the region”.
Sen. Akpabio further stated that Federal Government is carrying out the Ogoni clean-up with the support of the IOC’s and international community, he, therefore, appealed to the UN for intervention in other areas of the region affected by oil exploration which has experienced oil spillage.
In his response, the Nigeria’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Prof. Tijjani Bande,, stated that Nigeria is a great country and what happens in the Niger Delta region is a reflection of what happens in Nigeria as a whole. He noted that issues relating to the region are crucial and that the region should be provided with adequate health facilities, schools, empowerment programmes for youths and equally tackle environmental pollution as result of oil exploration.
He reiterated that empowering the youths is planning for the future as it gives them hope and reduced insecurity.