Developmental interventions in Abia as oil producing state under NDDC poor, says Deputy Speaker, Kalu
Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Benjamin Okezie Kalu has rated below average the developmental interventions in Abia as an oil producing State under the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
Kalu expressed the view when a delegation of the Ukwa People’s Consultative Council (UPCC) led by its Leader, Sir Don Ubani paid him a courtesy visit on Wednesday in Abuja.
Ukwa is the oil producing area in Abia State.
The delegation in their presentation decried infrastructural decay and environmental degradation as a result of oil exploration in the area, adding that NDDC had not met the expectations of the people.
The Deputy Speaker in his remarks commended the people for taking a peaceful approach.
He said: “I totally agree with you that, what we have in Abia, as an oil producing state and as a member of NDDC, comparatively speaking, is below average, in terms of developmental interventions. A call from the stakeholders that an improvement should take place, is definitely not a wrong call.
“This kind of engagement is actually commended by the Leadership of the House. It is better to jaw-jaw, than to war-war. It is less expensive for us to engage like this and proffer solutions. This is an easier, cost effective, peaceful approach to conflict resolution. So, I commend the leadership of Ukwa community, the oil producing community, for holding their youth and despite the fact that the development interventions have been below average, they have kept their heads peaceful and allowed all the IOCs handle their operations peacefully in those communities.
“I encourage you to continue in maintaining peace in Abia State, in Ukwa and in the Niger Delta. It is in peace that we will progress. It is in peace that out unity will be enhanced. It is a step in the right direction that you came and I want to assure you that, what your request has done, is to once again, beam the torchlight on the oversight functions of the NDDC Committee on the NDDC operations in the nine states, and especially now, in Abia State.
“They would now be able to look into their report. What is it that they did not do well previously? Especially in auditing the spread of projects equitably around the nine states of operations. I am from Abia and I am here as the Deputy Speaker, I am promising you, that as the Chairman of the House Committee of the Whole, that considers reports of various Committees of the House, my special interest would be on this issue you have raised, going forward. Year one, year two, year three, year four of my tenure as deputy Speaker, I assure you, I would always ask questions, on how equitably, they balance their interventions”.
Earlier, Ubani said that were it not for the interventions of the leadership, the youth would have resorted to restiveness.
The delegation also pleaded with the deputy speaker to include the member representing Ukwa East/West federal constituency in the NDDC committee.
“Today, farmers in Ukwa federal constituency cannot farm effectively again because the fertility of the soil has been diminished because of many years of oil exploration and exploitation
“Many of our people are fishermen because we are very close to Rivers State, our people are fishermen. They can’t fish today because oil exploitation has almost destroyed aquatic life , so there’s trouble in the area.
“But interestingly the youths of the area have maintained peaceful disposition. Those of us who are their elders, we have continued to tell them that two wrongs don’t make a right. Since the federal government has thought it wise to establish the Niger Delta Development Commission, yet most of the projects earmarked for the area has been abandoned. If you come into that place you will ask yourself is this an oil producing state.
“We are here to plead with you and all those that believe in fairness and justice to come to the rescue of Ukwa people. Our place is bad. There’s a lot of infrastructural decadence in that area.
“Let there be manifestation of concern on the part of NDDC. Nothing so far has given us course to be happy as oil producing area. We need to avoid situation that will create youth restiveness and the best way to do it is to make sure that there’s development.
“We are here in solidarity with you. Permit us Your Excellency to inform you that the member representing Ukwa East and west, Hon. Chris Nkwonta whom we are well pleased enjoys our collective confidence, we are very sure he will be of usefulness as a member of the House Committee on NDDC, in fairness and justice. The oil and gas that accord Abia state the unique status of an oil producing state are in Ukwa federal constituency”, Ubani said.