Sylva blasts NDDC, Amnesty programme at 4th GbaramatuVoice Lectures/Awards

–Questions where billions of Naira allocated to the agencies are

By Badmus Shina

A former Governor of Bayelsa State, Chief Timipre Sylva has lampooned the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, and Niger Delta Amnesty programme.

Sylva, who was recently appointed Minister under the President Muhammadu Buhari government alleged during the 4th GbaramatuVoice Lectures and Awards held on August 8 at Transcorp Hilton, Abuja, that billions of Naira had passed through these agencies yet no significant improvement could be noted in the Niger Delta.

While delivering his keynote address as the chairman of the event, Sylva said the NDDC and Amnesty programme had a lot to answer for not keeping to their mandates.

He added that oil production activities in Ijaw land started a long time ago — around 1958. He said that in that year, oil was discovered in commercial quantity; and since then, oil companies had not relented in their activities in Ijaw land till date.

Sylva said that oil companies do not pay a hoot to the communities, because they felt they were producing companies and not community developing companies; hence there had been a dislocation of relationship between oil companies and the communities hosting them.

According to him, “Very early in the 1960s, the first wave and discontent and agitation took off with Isaac Boro. The twelve day revolution, as he called it then, was quelled by the ‘National Government’ at the time. They continued the activities of oil production in the area without much attention to the communities. They produced unrelenting until the 1980s and 1990s.

“Every wave of agitation became more ferocious than the previous. At some point it was impossible for the Federal Government and the world not to take notice.

“And of the Federal Government reacted by establishing first, the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC and later on, we helped the Federal Government to conceptualize the Amnesty Programme, which has taken us to where we are today.

“Today, the blame must be bore by all of us. The Federal Government has a lot to answer for; the oil companies also will answer for a lot. But also and more importantly the development agencies that were set up to ameliorate the development of the Niger Delta specifically, must come to answer for a lot of things.”

The former governor while reacting to the impact of these development agencies in the Niger Delta, asked if the NDDC and Amnesty programme have succeeded in the activities they were set up to do.

“The NDDC, what have they succeeded in doing? Have they succeeded in their mandate? The Amnesty Programme, have they succeeded in their mandate?” Sylva rhetorically asked.

He continued, “Billions and billions, if not trillions of Naira, have passed through the NDDC. The Amnesty Programme has also received billions and for some reason, the Niger Delta area has still not changed much.”

He also said that the Federal Government and the oil companies cannot totally be blamed because all the management of NDDC and Amnesty Programme are Niger Delta people, yet the region hasn’t been taken to the ‘promise land’.

Sylva also cautioned that pipeline vandalism must be eradicated as it hasn’t helped in any way to develop the Niger Delta.

He said, “We must look at the activities of our people who vandalize pipeline. Today, we have a lot of pipeline vandalism going on in our communities by our people. So we cannot totally blame the oil companies, but must now begin to take part in the solution of this problem.

“So I call for a coalition among the Federal Government, the development agencies created for the development of the Niger Delta; the NDDC, the Amnesty Programme, oil companies producing in the area and most importantly, the involvement of the our communities and our people.

“It is only a coalition of these groups that can bring a solution to these problems finally.”

Sylva also applauded GbaramatuVoice for its unique effort in taking the lead in the reportage of the Niger Delta.

“We must tell our story. We cannot let others tell our story, because they cannot understand the issues as much as we do, because we are in the issues. GbaramatuVoice, I thank you for this responsible step in taking leadership on these issues,” he concluded.

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