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Ijaw youths decry Niger Delta’s underdevelopment amid N15 trillion intervention

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The Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) has decried the underdevelopment of the oil-rich Niger Delta despite the N15 trillion intervention funds released since 2000 to develop the communities and the indigenes of the area.

According to the group, “there has been no significant milestones in terms of concrete achievements to justify the huge amount released for the development of the region, as it still remains underdeveloped with poor roads, little or no infrastructure and the country’s highest rate of youth unemployment and poverty.”

IYC’s chairman, Comrade Ebizimor Preye, in a statement yesterday in Abuja said the efforts were not yielding fruits because the “roots are rotten, so the leaves have been falling.”

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He lamented that the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), charged with the responsibility of “facilitating the rapid and sustainable development of the Niger Delta into a region that is economically prosperous, socially stable, ecologically regenerative and politically peaceful for a lasting solution to the socio-economic difficulties, right from the start suffered lack of ownership.”

Preye said despite the formal existence of oversight mechanisms, corruption, transparency, lack of supervisory oversight and the absence of performance evaluation guidelines had been major problems, noting: “There have been recurrent concerns about fictitious projects and contracts being granted to friends and family members or used to prop up patronage for political or personal gains.”

The group pointed out that President Muhammadu Buhari’s assurance that “new people are coming” could make more meaning only if the entire interventionist agency was cleaned up.

Preye stressed the need for the people to support the government’s efforts and the ordered forensic audit to strengthen transparency and accountability in the commission.

His words: “No doubt, this move is part of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s agenda to curb corruption in all sectors and promote accountability and good governance. We call on all Niger Deltans and Nigerians at large to support the ongoing audit of the NDDC and allow the interim board to manage the affairs of the commission.

“Let the place be cleaned up while awaiting the new board. We need cleaner NDDC and better reforms.

“Let us support the Dr. Gbene Joi Nunieh-led interim board for a whole new Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) that will reposition and prioritise the development of the region.”

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