Cross River State Governor, Senator Ben Ayade, has accused the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) for neglecting the state and called for a review of the commission’s master plan if the oil-rich region is to witness real growth.
Ayade stated this in Calabar when the management of the commission led by its acting Managing Director, Professor Nelson Brambaifa, paid him a courtesy call, recently.
According to the governor, very little has been achieved by way of development under the current master plan, explaining that the current master plan even as inadequate as it is, has not been “implemented in truth, kind, action and in words.”
He, therefore, called for a major review of the master plan to reflect the realities and the needs of the states. The governor also urged the commission to deviate from the culture whereby governors in the region are not carried along when contracts are being awarded by the commission.
“As governor, I have the superintending and overriding power over the land in Cross River, which I hold in trust for the people. Therefore, by the provisions of the law, I have the powers to stop any project in this state. It is part of the constitutional provisions under the NDDC Act that the NDDC will have regular meetings with the various stakeholders including the governors that form part of the governing board.
“As I speak, I’m not aware of, nor have I received any official letter inviting me and my colleagues for a meeting. We are not interested in deciding who gets the job but we would ask our works department to be part of supervision to ensure that quality is adhered to at all times.
“I say this so that you don’t make the mistakes of the past” and decried the treatment of Cross River State by the Commission, saying the story of the state “has been that of melancholy. We have been reduced to want in body, soul and spirit.
“In sociology, any child who has very little and the other one has more, a mother is allowed to take from the one that has more and give to the one that has little.
“In NDDC, it is the states that have more money that are allocated bigger projects. It is not African. It is inhumane and inconsistent with the core principles of Kantianism that I know. In all honesty, we have structured a society for aggressive rebellion.”
He, therefore, pleaded that the state be treated fairly, especially “when one considers the fact that we have a land mass of over 21,000 square kilometres, larger than the entire Niger Delta. Connecting two local governments is larger than any state in the Niger Delta with international boundaries to over four countries with its attendant challenges. We have been excluded by the NDDC from its original philosophy of making a prosperity agenda for the region.
“It is so sad that at the height of kidnapping and all the criminality in the Niger Delta, Operation Delta Safe was mobilized to all the states except Cross River. So, all the militants now found Cross River a safe haven.
“This once peaceful, beautiful state suddenly became safe haven for militants and kidnappers to inhabit and distort our complete sight. The basis was that there were no pipelines in Cross River. So, as a government, we now place premium on oil over blood. Africa has never shown this kind of disdain to a weaker brother.”