Orok Duke addressing the media
The Commissioner representing Cross River at the board of the Niger Delta Development Commission, (NDDC) Rt. Hon. Orok Otu Duke, has faulted the implimentation of the NDDC Act saying it has been implemented in error for 23 years.
Duke who said this on Tuesday when he officially resumed duty at the state office of NDDC located at the Murtala Mohammed Highway, Calabar, stated that in the NDDC Act there should be no segregation but equality.
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 is 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 develop the nine states of the Niger Delta and you still come to give Cross River zero? It is strictly equality which has not been practiced in 23 years.
“In the OMPADEC law it is captured when you produce oil you get projects but in the NDDC Act there is nothing like that. By 1999 constitution that provision of 13 percent derivation was enshrined and clearly captured that any place producing oil should benefit and have 13 percent derivation . Decree 23 of 1992 was repealed and there is nothing like OMPADEC and that is why we have this new creation called NDDC . There is no place in the NDDC Act that says you share money, build schools others according to production quata. There is no place in the Act but it’s strictly equality. Which has not been practiced for 23 Years”.
Duke lamented that “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 sent to NDDC. We have a situation where if these monies were deducted and paid to Cross River we will have more than N15 billion 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 N 15 billion. What do we do? You now pile pressure on the state. The state already has 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 states. It is not acceptable.
“Out of N900billion of next year’s budget they restrict us to N 15 billion and out of the N 15 billion they say we cannot spend more than N 7billion and we should use N 7 billion to settle debts What will N 7billion do for Cross River. I am not coming to flatter anybody. It is either you give us our right or you expect a fight. Whatever is due Cross River state should be given to Cross River state. I am not going to ask for arrears but I am talking about 2024 budget. Out of the N900 billion at least we should get N80 billion but N15 billion is totally unacceptable”.
He argued that Cross River deserves the best from NDDC because according to him, the state is the only All Progressive Congress (APC) controlled state in the entire south south geopolitical zone; and 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.