The Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs has reacted to a news item published by some online news media and purporting that the Minister of the Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, had advised protesting Youths and Women of the Niger Delta Region on the constitution of the board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC.), to channel their grievances to President Muhammadu Buhari.
The Ministry said the sensational headline titled: “CHANNEL YOUR GRIEVANCES TO BUHARI, AKPABIO TELLS WOMEN, YOUTHS” is not only misleading but does not represent the position of the Hon Minister, Akpabio, on the constitution of the board of the NDDC.
A statement read in part, “The sensational headline given to the news item has no bearing to the statement issued by the Ministry. At no time did the Hon Minister meet with Youths and Women as alleged. At the appropriate time, upon the recommendation of the Minister to Mr President, the board of the NDDC will be constituted.
“It should be noted that the Hon Minister had earlier stated his position on the constitution and inauguration of the board of the NDDC in a statement he personally signed.
“The statement was widely published in conventional news media and online platforms and this position has not changed and that position has always been that:
“Mr President has set out to reposition the NDDC after 19 years of rot saw to the undermining of the dreams of the fathers of the region, to fast track its development through the setting up of an interventionist agency.
“Part of the strategy was a forensic audit to understand what went wrong, despite the resources committed to the Commission over the years.
“The report of that audit has just been submitted to Mr. President, who is studying it to come up with a formula for a commission fit for purpose. That formula is what the board being put together will work with.
“It is not in the interest of the region to stampede the government into aborting the reform process. The President has demonstrated immense love for the Niger Delta and its people. This is reflected in the support he has given to the NDDC to complete some of the projects abandoned over the years, like the headquarters complex in Port Harcourt, the Students’ Hostel at Uyo, and the electrification project in Ondo State.
“The President wants to give to the region an interventionist agency that will realize the dreams of our fathers for our people and generations yet unborn.
“The greatest disservice we can do to the region is to attempt to stampede him, through ingeniously crafted media campaigns.
“The Hon Minister is irrevocably committed to assisting Mr. President to leave behind a legacy for the Niger Delta people, particularly, saving the NDDC from dying like past developmental agencies put together for the region since 1958.
“That the Minister recently inaugurated the Inter-Ministerial Work Plan (SIWP), to bring to an end, the era of project duplication and multiplication by agencies of government in the region, where foreign development partners like the Stakeholders Democratic Network (SDN), the British High Commission, the Embassy of Netherlands and Facility For Oil Sector Transformation (FOSTER) were all in attendance and they pledged their support for the continued development of the region.
“It is the hope of the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, that this will put to rest all inquiries, mischief, misinformation, misinterpretation, misrepresentation and falsehood on the subject matter of the constitution of the NDDC board, usually aimed at causing friction between the Hon Minister, the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs and the Presidency.”