The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, has asked for more funds for the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) which he said is broke.
The commission was in the news towards the end of last year over allegations of corruption running into billions.
At a public hearing of the national assembly, Akpabio had accused federal lawmakers of being beneficiaries of corruption.
But speaking on Friday at the NDDC Strategic Capacity Building Workshop in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State capital, Akpabio said the funding system is poor because budgetary provision for the commission is staggered and does not come as and when due.
The minister, who called for an amendment to the laws establishing the agency if need be, said he was determined to leave the NDDC better than how he found it.
“The commission is broke because the funding system is poor. We must leave NDDC better than what we found it. If it means the lawmakers have to tinker with the law, so be it” he said.
Akpabio cited corruption, weak political and institutional governance, transparency and accountability in performance information, and lack of proper consultation and engagement with the communities and State Governments among others as challenges plaguing the commission.
“Corruption is one of the greatest problems of the Nigerian society and it also finds its ugly and devastating effects in all sectors of the polity including the Niger Delta Development Commission.
“The level of corruption engulfed all the sectors including government, parastatals, ministries, government officials and community leaders even the youth leaders and NDDC was not left out in the act.
“Weak political and institutional governance in the Niger Delta has led to the misuse of public resources, poor service delivery, and the poor enforcement, of the law.
“The consequence has been the lingering restiveness, the breakdown of trust, abuse and misuse of power between officials and the communities, and embezzlement and attendant violence.
“The current funding patterns and budgeting processes must embrace these best practices, in order to achieve the best we can, while asking for more funding to do even more sustainable projects and programmes,” he said.
In his welcome address, the Interim Administrator/Chief Executive Officer of the commission, Mr Effiong Akwa, said the retreat was in furtherance of consultation with stakeholders of the commission for the speedy development of the region.
Akwa, who stated that NDDC was done with its unsavoury past, said continuous consultation and collaboration for effective development was now the focus of the commission.
He called on stakeholders of the commission and Niger Delta to join hands and work together for the benefit of the the people.
“We are here today in furtherance of our ongoing consultations with internal and stakeholders of the NDDC to distil commonalities among stakeholders for speedy development of our beloved Niger Delta region.”
“The NDDC is born again. Contrary to its unsavoury past ways, the core of our new personae is continual consultations and collaboration with stakeholders to co-create commonalities for effective development of the Niger Delta.
“I beckon on all stakeholders of the NDDC and the Niger Delta, please come and let us reason together. Please come, let us work together to create common way forward for the benefit of our people,” he stated.