A former Nigerian Ambassador to Russia and Community leader, Chief Assam Assam has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to appoint credible Nigerians in the mould of Obong Victor Attah, if he hopes to rescue Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and returned it on the path of progress and development of the region.
Assam, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria and former Attorney general and Commissioner for Justice in Akwa Ibom State Assam, who spoke in an exclusive interview with Crystal Express, describes NDDC as a dark hole and farm of some corrupt Nigerians, regretted that the interventionist Agency, synonymous with abandoned projects and debts, have crippled financially some genuine businessmen who borrowed from Banks to execute the contracts for them owing to bad debts.
Speaking in an exclusive interview, the fiery legal luminary maintained that the appointment of active politicians seeking elections into the board and management of the board has done more harm than good on the performance of the Agency, calling on the President to halt further appointment of election seeking politicians in the board and management of NDDC.
According to former Nigerian Ambassador, “NDDC was not well organized when it was changed from Oil Mineral Producing Area Development Commission (OMPADEC). Moments after the change, the place became a farm, where people struggled to be chairman and managing director. People struggle and spend huge sums of money to go to NDDC board and management; they are all going there to farm. There, contracts are awarded, no documentation and yet the people who do the jobs never get paid. There are so much debts in NDDC. So many people who did contracts at NDDC with bank loans are improvised. Some have lost their mortgages because they are not paid for jobs done. Dishonest people are in offices in NDDC and not people with conscience,” he lamented.
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On the ways to give the Agency a new lease of life, Assam suggested, “NDDC needs people in the mould of Obong Victor Attah, he will clean up the place. The man is as straight as a ruler to everybody. After eight years as governor there is no wealth traced to him outside one simple house in Shelter Afrique Estate. He still practices architecture till dates to enable him survive. If they want to really clean up the NDDC, they should go to a man like that and give him money and make it clear that it is for the development of Niger Delta and see the result in few years. Just give him the resources to work with because he won’t come begging for money. Attah will pick his aides and put Niger Delta on the pedestal nobody will believe.
“You can then appoint a vibrant young man as the managing director and the chairman will be giving directives. You don’t have to bring people who are looking for money to chair NDDC or bring in people because of political considerations. The board of NDDC can even be made up of former governors and there are many of them”.
Chief Assam, who also spoke against the backdrop of the recent demand by leaders and stakeholders of Eket Federal Constituency led by Prof Asindi Asindi and Prof Des Wilson on Governor Udom Emmanuel to fast track development in the constituency which have allegedly suffered neglect from successive administrations, rose in stoutly in support of the agitation.
He maintained that the demands of Eket leaders is justifiable as their son is currently the Governor and has to develop the area now as the future governor may not take development to the area of his priority.
Going down memory lane, Chief Assam Assam said, “Let me tell you in clear terms that by the time former Governor Akpabio left office, he had started building the road from Uyo to Ikot Ekpene, he had transformed Ikot Ekpene to a modern city with every street tarred. He built a major road from Uyo to Abak and from Abak to Ikot Ekpene. He built a road from Abak to Etim Ekpo and to Ika. He built a bridge across Abak River, built three flyovers in Uyo all leading to Ikot Ekpene. Nothing was built in Ini, Ikono, Oruk Anam and Ukanafun council areas.”
The legal practitioner continued, “He built the magnificent Four Points by Sheraton Hotels in Ikot Ekpene, a new prison in Ikot Ekpene and on the 1st of January, 2018 before the commencement of election, he went to his people and said if Gov. Emmanuel did not complete all the projects in Ikot Ekpene, he should not be supported. That means even to Godswill who has done so much for his people, he still feels he has not done enough. But they were the greatest beneficiaries of all the monies that were spent in Akwa Ibom State in his eight years as governor”.
According to him, “If Eket people tell Udom Emmanuel as governor that he has to develop Eket, they are not saying so because nothing has been done but they are saying it because they want more for their communities.
Gov. Emmanuel is working everywhere including roads in Ikot Ekpene and the people are not sure that when he leaves office, there will be someone to work in their communities. They want their son to do more for them, that’s all. It is not that he was not doing anything. The governor is doing a lot in Eket and the people are shouting for more.”