By Kelvin Obambon
The Commissioner representing Cross River at the board of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Rt. Hon. Orok Duke, has assumed office with a vow to fight for fair and equal treatment for the state.
Duke made the vow Tuesday when he officially resume duty at the state office of NDDC located at the Murtala Mohammed Highway, Calabar.
While lamenting that Cross River has continuously been shortchanged in the interventionist agency in the last 23 years, the NDDC state representative charged all the staff to work with him in demanding fair and equitable allocation of developmental projects to Cross River.
According to him, the Act establishing the NDDC is anchored on equality among the 9 states, and that oil production quota is only considered a yardstick in the appointment of a Managing Director for the Commission.
“There’s no mention of production quota in the whole of NDDC Act. None at all. There’s no sharing formula, the same way it is captured in the Northeast Development Commission. When it comes to derivation, Cross River gets zero. Then they put money in the basket to go and development the 9 states of the Niger Delta, and you still come to give Cross River zero?
“Every month, 15 percent of our budget is deducted, every month 50 percent ecological fund is deducted and paid to NDDC, every month 3 percent of IOC money is deducted and send to NDDC. We have a situation where if these monies were deducted and paid to Cross River we will have more than N15billion per year. But routing it through NDDC we have less, and people think it’s normal and it has been going on for 23 years.
“We have projects that are screaming for attention worth well over N15billion. What do we do? You now pile pressure on the state. The state already have scarce resources with competing demands. NDDC is an interventionist agency. Let them do their work. They should stop cheating Cross River State. The same south south people are subjugating the other state. It is not acceptable. Out of N900billion they restrict us to N15billion, and out of the N15billion they say we cannot spend more than N7billion. What will N7billion do for Cross River,” Duke lamented.
He argued that Cross River deserve the best from NDDC because according to him, the state is the only APC controlled state in the entire south south geopolitical zone; and this, he maintained, must be consolidated upon in line with President Bola Tinubu’s 8-point agenda.
Duke, however, expressed optimism that with the full support of the state governor, Prince Bassey Otu, Cross River will most likely achieve its ambition of a better deal within the framework of NDDC.
Meanwhile, the NDDC Commissioner has frowned at the poor attitude of the state office towards project monitoring, which according to him, has left individuals and politicians claiming ownership of the agency’s projects and using same to score political points.
He, therefore, charged the department of project to ensure that signposts are erected at the sites of all projects that are being executed by the NDDC across the state, affirming that the Commission must take the credits for its projects, both completed and ongoing.
The NDDC Commissioner was welcomed and taken on a brief tour of the state office by the state acting director, Mr Kokoette Obot.