Wednesday, January 20, 2010

James Mamza writes on management of Niger Delta funds

by James Mamza

The utilization of the 13% derivation has been a big problem for the development of States in the Niger Delta region. There is no doubt that Nigeria is the sixth largest oil-producing nation in the world. However, mismanagement by successive military and elected officials of these States have left them under-developed and in a poverty-stricken condition. The States lack basic infrastructures such as good road network, potable drinking water, available health facilities and affordable housing programmes, In addition to experiencing continual environmental degradation.

The Military and Elected officials of these states concern themselves with amassing wealth by awarding inflated contracts to relatives, friends, Political Parties and spouses. Yet, despite the over inflated contracts, the jobs are never completed.

Clearly the actions of selfish leaders have lead to the mismanagement of state resources and poor developmental plan, which have consequently resulted in instability, anarchy and disorder in the states, by dissatisfied citizens.

The Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) under successive administrations came up with commissions / authority such as the Niger Delta Development Authority (NDDA), the Oil and Minerals Producing Development Area Commission (OMPADEC) and now Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC). These Authority and Commissions were aimed at solving the problems enumerated above. This has clearly not been effective.

It is my opinion that an infrastructure master plan should be developed in conjunction with FGN, NDDC, the States and professionals from various sectors (construction, engineering, architects, health professionals, legal experts, financial advisers, and Consultants) to come up with a master plan and develop costs for the growth and expansion of road networks, hospitals, schools, portable drinking water, housing programmes taking into consideration the uniqueness of each state. The community heads should therefore, be informed through stakeholder workshops and in turn they can enlighten their people so that they are adequately informed of the true position of the proposed developmental master plan. Though, this is merely one solution to the myriad of problems being experienced in the Niger Delta Region.

Further, I propose that any agreement entered into with the stakeholders must take into consideration the fact that FGN will use 6.5% of the 13% or half of the total derivation for the actualisation of the master plan, over each term of office (usually a period of 4 years). This will ensure that the money is truly spent for the development of the region and will not disappear into the bottomless pit of corruption.

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