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Obaseki begs NDDC for Benin/Abraka road counterpart fund

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Group cautions minister over comments on commission’s board
Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki has pleaded with the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to release its counterpart fund for the reconstruction of the 105.6km Benin/Abraka road.

The project is expected to be completed through the co-financing arrangement in a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) entered into by Edo State government, NDDC and Edo State Oil and Gas Producing Areas Development Commission (EDSOGPADEC) at the percentage ratio of 25:50:25 respectively.

Obaseki, in a meeting with the Minister of State for Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Tayo Alasoadura, in Benin City, said: “We have a contract with NDDC on the Benin/Abraka road, which has been awarded and construction has already commenced. But with almost nine months into the contract, we have not received the contribution of NDDC, though we have a signed agreement of commitment from the commission.

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“This road project is quite significant because it is another road connecting Edo and Delta. This is one area we want you to look into to expedite construction work on the road.

“We support the re-organisation that is currently taking place in the NDDC. I don’t believe that there is any other state that has been deprived like Edo in terms of resources that were allocated to it through the NDDC, as previous management of the commission have admitted and apologised that in terms of allocation, they did not achieve 20 per cent allocation performance in the state.”

Obaseki expressed optimism that Edo would work better with the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs to prevent NDDC from being used as politicians’ cash cow, but for the development of the region.

He added that the state government would also collaborate with the ministry in housing development and electricity supply through an initiative, which would require the involvement of Edo, Delta and Ondo (EDO) states.

Meanwhile, the Minister of State for Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Tayo Alasoadura, has been asked by the Niger Delta Integrity Network (NDIN) to be mindful of his utterances against the board of NDDC.

The minister had reportedly said that the board was “hurriedly put together”.

Describing the outburst of the minister as regrettable, convener of the group, Chief Ndimele Ajuri, stated that as a former senator, the minister should be familiar with the nuances of government, rather than using the word “dissolved” to depict the board, which inauguration was delayed for the Interim Management Committee to function.

He said: “Our attention has been drawn to reports in the media credited to the Minister of State for the Niger Delta, Senator Tayo Alasoadura, on the NDDC where he made statements to the effect that the board of the commission, which was constituted by the president and confirmed by the Senate on November 5 2019, had been dissolved.

“It is regrettable that a minister, who was a senator and who should be familiar with the nuances of government, would use the word ‘dissolved’ to describe the board, which had not been inaugurated in the first place and which inauguration was only delayed for the Interim Management Committee to function.”

According to the group, this confirms the fears that there are fifth columnists in the Niger Delta Ministry who are hell-bent on frustrating the harmony and progress of the Niger Delta, a reason they reportedly opposed the continuation of the interim management committee and demanded the inauguration of the board.

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“For the minister to say that ‘people just rushed to form a new board and as far as we are concerned, we saw that as ensuring it was business as usual for the new people’ is in itself an indictment on the president who constituted and announced the board and sent same to the Senate for consideration. Is the minister saying that the President and the presidency are incompetent?”

“For the benefit of the minister and others pushing for the interim ad hoc arrangement at the NDDC, the Senate-confirmed board is made of tested professionals from the constituent states of the Niger Delta and the various regional representations as provided for in the NDDC Act.

“It is clear to us that the persons pushing the interim agenda such as the minister of state have no idea what they are doing, and have no qualms destroying the unity of the Niger Delta region or the reputation of the President or that of the persons already cleared for the board.” 

“We believe that the focus should be on the audit of NDDC, which should preoccupy the minister if he has nothing more to offer as minister, more than spinning tales and conjectures in a bid to sound active and in the know,” he added.

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