NIGERIANS who are from the Niger Delta region have been charged to be at the forefront of calling out corrupt officials and exposing corrupt acts at the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
Two investigative journalists with the Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ), Akintunde Babatunde and Adebayo Taiwo-Hassan made this call on Wednesday during a radio program, Public Conscience produced by the Progressive Impact Organization for Community Development, (PRIMORG).
Taiwo-Hassan said it was worrisome to see members of the public, civil society organisations and National Assembly raise alarm over the rot and malfeasance in NDDC while people from the region appeared less-concerned.
“You have people from the region who are very educated, who are on Twitter and other social media platforms, what has come from them, have they reported poorly executed projects in their area,” he stated.
According to him, “the mess caused by years of maladministration in the region is actually not expressible and words are not enough for it.”
“It is extremely messy and has become worse by the activity of people who are entrusted with a role to ameliorate the situation but they have turned it to a criminal money-making enterprise.”
Taiwo-Hassan noted that cases, where some Nigerians take up arms against the country, is caused by a lack of sense of contribution from the part of the government.
“In Nigeria today, you see people who are ready to take up arms against the state, the reason is that there is no form of psychological loyalty because they don’t feel like the state has done anything for them,” he further stated.
On his part, Akintunde Babatunde, PTCIJ Programme Manager said investigations by the Centre was prompted by the massive allocation of funds to the region in almost two decades.
Babatunde stated that the NDDC budget in 18 years was N2.16 trillion while the Commission claimed to have executed over nine thousand projects in 19 years.
He recommended that citizens’ involvement in contracts awarded in their communities remains the most efficient means of getting the job done.
Adaobi Obiabunmuo, a co-convener of the programme, also joined the call for Nigerians and particularly residents of the oil-rich Niger Delta region to show enthusiasm and hold public officials to account.
“As citizens, we must continue to engage with stakeholders and also monitor projects in our communities,” she stated.
The NDDC is under probe by the House of Representatives Committee on NDDC over financial infractions up to the tune of N81 billion.