NDDC: Open letter to President Buhari

SIR: I read with utter disgust, the comment of the Executive Director of Projects, Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Dr. Cairo Ojougboh on Monday, July 20 wherein he said: “There are 185 local governments in the Niger Delta region and we have the list of contracts in all the local governments.

Normally, when the forensic auditors arrive, people chase them out of the place. So, indigenes are appointed as pointers who will stay in the local government. All those jobs that are abandoned, they will go and show them where the site is.”

 

And for this a whooping N340 million, likely derived from the centralized sale of the depleting crude oil reserves in the Niger Delta region, was budgeted for by a federal government agency to by-pass both the respective state and local governments of the 185 entities in addressing their infrastructural gaps?

My foul-cry is not borne out of doubt for the judicious or actual use of the said “pointing allowances” – the fact-finding of which the House of Representatives is currently and commendably handling.

Rather, I feel mentally debased that in the year 2020, your leadership gives impetus to our national drivers to hide behind their fingers in chanting that this quasi-federalism we’ve thoughtlessly applied to solve our myriads of problems in Nigeria is the best.

 

Or, am I the only Nigerian to openly complain of the unending and involuntary rumble of his bowel, owing to Dr. Ojougboh’s let-out that a federal government agency has the gut to budget hundreds of millions of naira for would-be “pointers”?

Before your assumption of democratic power in 2015, intelligent, dispassionate and patriotic conversations relentlessly made a case for Nigeria to jettison this weak and inefficient unitary system that puts billions of naira in the hands of far-from-reach federal agencies whose operational frameworks can never permit a realistic needs-assessment or implementation at the local levels.

 

That explains why I’m deeply embarrassed and worried that the N340 million in question is more than the budgetary provision for qualitative and functional primary health care services by about 586 primary healthcare facilities in a state with about 4.6 million population.

It’s absurd that save for Lagos, with her comparative advantage as a major port-harbouring and consequent private sector-hosting city, other 35 states are spineless pocket money-collecting agents, some of whom brandish annual budgets that do not surpass the combined budgetary size of two federal MDAs.

The capacity to generate funds by the state and LGAs has been clandestinely and constitutionally mortgaged to an over-sized federal actor, who for decades, derives more pleasure in being seen to be doing something for 200 million people than allow the two closest units of government to truly solve our problems, even under your watch.

Mr. President, even if we exterminate corruption at all levels of government, a mono-product Nigeria struggling to fund a paltry federal budget of about US$28.26 billion dollars for health, education, infrastructure, water resources, police, armed forces, NDDC and all aspects of her national destiny in year 2020 of an alarmingly growing population of 200 million people, is still a very poor nation.

 

In this national misery, it is unfortunate that the political hegemony is not done with its mastery of the art of shielding and deceiving the lot of its followership gang, who are blindly religious and truth-hating.

That NDDC and their likes need to be urgently prevented from perpetuating such bestial funds-allocating habits for “pointers’ programmes” by our resolve for a change in the present administrative structure is discernible.

Pakistan’s 220 million population with a 2020 budget profile of US$45.5 billion points to the fact that we had better avert more needless “pointing”, than wait for chronic poverty and hunger, prodded by a cowardly administrative structure, to amputate all our fingers.

 

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About the Author: Dele Oshodi

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