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OP-UNEDITED | Why a North-East Development Commission is Inappropriate – By Sotayo-Aro

By Hakeem Sotayo-Aro

Niger Delta Development Commission {NDDC} was established to replace the Oil Mineral Producing Areas Commission {Decree 1992 amended by a 1996 and 1998 Decree}, NDDC is not a novel idea. In fact the core objectives of NDDC’s predecessor were to tackle oil pollution, spillages and ecological problems. What the NDDC Act did was to add more functions and powers, mainly infrastructural development, to the then newly created commission. This in fact became a major challenge for the commission, it had to much responsibilities.

A commission should mainly be regulatory or advisory. If at all executory it should have very narrow and restricted powers. NDDC is doing its bit for the Niger-Delta. Though critics have not been able to point out any significant instance, they have alleged that the NDDC has become a tool for corruption and embezzlement and so would a NEDC. This perception will remain mainly because of the enormous responsibilities of infrastructural development the ‘mere’ commission has to bare. Any commission that has the responsibility of implementing infrastructural programs may not be successful mainly because of the permanent nature and its structure. At best an implementing development commission like NDDC and a NEDC will rank as an aid institution competing with the likes of Red Cross, Action Aid, USAID, DFID and CSR units of top companies.

NDDC, in addition to the 13% derivation, should be seen as a plus and appeasement to the undeveloped Niger-Delta region. To be sincere the region deserves a little bit more as this region has been funding and developing Nigeria since the 70s. That should be the underlying reason for a NDDC and it should end there.

On the North East region {NE}, the issue is not whether there is a need for a Marshall plan {funds for reconstruction} or not but it is the mode of reconstruction and implementation. A development commission cannot be used and it has never been used to restructure, rebuild and reconstruct an area or region devastated by war and conflict. Niger-Delta and the NDDC response is not a precedent as there was neither a war, exodus nor grand massacres before the NDDC was created. The challenge was oil pollution and spillage which caused underdevelopment. The North East region (NE) deserves more than a commission. A NEDC will sooner or later be relegated to NEMA. In situations such as the NE region finds itself what has successfully work has been a medium term phased plan not a master plan but phased practical plan {e.g. Number of roads, social and residential buildings to be rebuilt}.

What NE needs is more like a federal ministry, larger than a commission, answerable directly to the president and part of the cabinet. A ministry of reconstruction existed in France from 1944 to 1957 in response to the destruction after the 2nd World War. A ministry of reconstruction of sort dedicated to tackling the effect of Boko Haram is needed. One which will become a clearing house and directorate of all aids coming to NE. We have to note that Boko Haram have not been defeated or completely defeated. Only God knows where they are getting more pickup vans and anti-aircraft guns despite the numerous success of the Nigerian Military. Considering this fact the approach to NE’s development should not be rigid and myopic but composite, flexible and elaborate.

Late President Yar’Adua had good plans for the ministry of Niger-Delta, but the point remains that the ministry may seem to have not achieved nothing tangible despite the substantial budgetary allocations it got during the last administration. This must be avoided in the North East {please this is not a matter of corruption}. Institutional duplication must also be avoided.

If were are to learn from the past, I would say we do not need a NEDC what is urgently needed is the creation of a ministry with the major aim of ensuring all funds, donation and aids towards the reconstruction of the NE is coordinated to achieve a widely publicized medium term phased plan.

The Victim Support Fund of the last administration recently donated N250 Million towards the renovation of public structures in Dikwa, Alhaji Dangote also donated some N2 Billion to Bornu State. Reconstruction has started a coordinating {not implementing} ministry meant to create a to do list, publicized and tick is better than a commission.


Inspired by Steve Biko’s ‘I Write What I Like‘, OP-UNEDITED is the citizen opinion segment of SIGNAL. All opinions posted on the OP-UNEDITED page are unedited and the raw opinions of the writers.

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Copyright 2015 SIGNAL. Permission to use portions of this article is granted provided appropriate credits are given to and other relevant sources.

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