Traditional Rulers of Oil Producing Communities in Nigeria have called on oil companies operating in the Niger Delta region to remit their three per cent contributions to the Niger Delta Development Commission “or leave the region”.
Its Secretary, Oba Obafemi Ogbaro, the Odoka of Ogbaro Kingdom in Ilaje Local Government Area of Ondo State, made the call on behalf of the group in a statement on Sunday in Lagos.
Ogbaro said the National Assembly must bring to bear the full might of its powers on the oil companies that consistently refused to remit their three per cent contributions to the NDDC.
He said in failing to remit their contributions, they would be denying the commission of the much needed funds to execute its mandate.
According to him: “We are ready to cooperate with the NDDC, NASS and the ministry to sue these companies and stop their operations in the region, if they continue to fail to comply.
“We feel encouraged by speedy payment of allowances to our sons and daughters studying in Diaspora after years of neglect.
“We are also happy with the ongoing verification of contractors’ claims and expeditious commitment to move the commission to its befitting and permanent headquarters, all in the space of the short time since the inauguration of the Interim Management Committee.
“We thank the commission for its support to ameliorate the sufferings of our people as a result of the lockdown occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic, through the state governments in the region.
“We, however, urge them to route some of this support through the fourth and closest tier to the people – the natural and traditional rulers in the next round of planned palliatives.”
The statement urged the National Assembly, through its relevant committees in both chambers, to use its oversight powers to eradicate the evil practices of the past.
It identified some of the practices to include the practices of forcing the commission to execute projects of little or no bearing to its mandate or the region in a bid to enrich vested interests within the National Assembly.
“They should rather work tirelessly to expedite action on the budget and prompt release of funds to the commission,” he said.
Ogbaro urged people of the region to cooperate with Minister of Niger Delta, Senator Godswill Akpabio, and the newly inaugurated Interim Management Committee headed by the acting Managing Director, Prof. Kemebradikumo Daniel Pondei, to deliver on the commission’s mandate.
The secretary noted that TROMPCON was ready to work with all stakeholders to see an efficient NDDC delivering on its mandate of a renewed Niger Delta region.
This, he said, would bring about a community where people would reap the benefits of a political, sociocultural and technological revolution in infrastructure and human capital development toward improving wellbeing of the region and its people.
The secretary also urged the commission’s directors to cooperate and work with the committee to deliver on its mandate.
He said that their cooperation was necessary, irrespective of their political, religious, ethnic and social leanings.
Ogbaro said: “We are not unaware of the activities of many of the redeployed directors of the commission and others inciting their paid lackeys to publish falsehoods about the minister and the new Interim Management Committee.
“We are particularly miffed about the sponsored spate of blackmails, backbiting and persistent bad press attacks on the personality of the minister and, by extension, the President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, President Muhammadu Buhari.
“This is not only counterproductive, but also portends an ill omen as it imposes on our people, the proverbial grass that always suffer where two elephants clash.”
Ogbaro advised all parties to sheathe their swords of accusations and counter-accusations of fraud, pending the outcome of the audit report ordered by the President to determine, among others, the past financial details of the commission.
The interim management committee members include Elder Ibanga Bassey Etang, Acting Executive Director, Finance and Administration; Dr. Cairo Ojougboh, Acting Executive Director, Project; Cecilia Bukola Akintomide, Member; and Caroline Nagbo, Member.