Bayelsa youths want abandoned projects completed, defaulters prosecuted
In Bayelsa State, the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has so far awarded a total of 941 projects, out of which only 233, valued at N38.8b have been completed and commissioned.
In fact, the about 400 abandoned projects scattered across all eight local councils of the state, serve as a pointer to the abysmal performance the commission has recorded in the state.
This woeful performance, perhaps, prompted Senator Ben Murray-Bruce, who represents Bayelsa East Senatorial District, to recently decry the spate of abandoned projects in the Akassa area, in Brass Local Council.
Murray-Bruce, who was on the tour of the area, in the company of some indigenes, described the commission’s action as “wicked and unacceptable.” Head, Environmental Rights Action, Niger Delta Resource Centre, Yenagoa, Alagoa Morris, told The Guardian that a water project built by the NDDC at Okutukutu, Yenagoa, has been abandoned for over nine years.
“This is unacceptable as funds spent on this very important project have not served the purpose,” Morris fumed. Another project that has suffered similar fate is the nine-kilometre Opume-Okoroba Road, which was awarded in 2012 by the commission.”
Spokesman of Okoroba Community, Morris Igaki, said the abandonment of the road has affected the developmental strides of the people with concomitant effects on the socio-political and economic spheres of the community.
Another project, a shoreline protection contract awarded by the NDDC at Ammassoma, is one of the projects that has suffered years of abandonment.
Governor Seriake Dickson, while playing host to the new NDDC board chairman, Senator Victor Ndoma Egba, condemned the abysmal and woeful performance of the board in the state.
A visibly angry Dickson cautioned the Federal Government to desist from politicising and interfering in the activities of the agency. President of Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), Eric Omare, is also of the opinion that past managements of the agency simply perfected the art of abandoning projects in the region that they were set up to face-lift.
Omare, however, disagreed with the position of the present board, saying that, “If previous boards, including the present board had done what they were supposed to do, these ought not be this high number of abandoned projects.
He said while, “abandonment of projects is another evidence of poor leadership in government, the threat not to continue with the projects is totally unacceptable. What is expected of the NDDC board is to insist that contractors awarded contracts and paid to execute these jobs must play their parts, and not abandon them and walk away.
“The IYC totally rejects the position of the NDDC not to continue with abandoned projects. We insist that the NDDC board should bring to book those responsible for abandoned projects. They should be made to go back to site to complete the projects, or face prosecution where necessary. Nothing less than this would be acceptable to the IYC and people of the Niger Delta region.”
Chairman of the Civil Liberty Organisation (CLO) in the state, Nengi James, shares IYC’s position, insisting that those who abandoned projects after collecting monies should be prosecuted without fail.
James, who doubles as the Coordinator of Niger Delta Development Monitoring Group (NDDMG), a non-governmental organisation (NGO) said, having gone round the state, it discovered that the state has the highest number of uncompleted and abandoned NDDC projects in the region.
“We have been going round and we have documents of uncompleted projects that have been mounting over the years … including documents of projects claimed to have been completed and verified by the NDDC, but which are sub-standard and not functional.
He lamented that the dreams of the NDDC have been bastardised, as politicians and successive governments have turned the agency into one that is used to dish out political patronage.
James said: If you read the NDDC Act, you will see that communities and states are to be developed according to production quota, but when it comes to development as I am talking, most oil-producing communities have not even been developed. The small development that the commission is even laying claims to, is taking place in areas that are not even oil-producing. That is the scenario and that is why agitations will continue. Most oil producing communities are suffering and are seriously undeveloped, especially in Bayelsa State, which is worst hit.
“So, I think this is not the time to cancel projects, but time to look for those who were supposed to carry out these projects, but decided to disappear with the money. This is time to prosecute and send them to jail.