The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), has been tasked to match words with action by ensuring that work on the East-West Road is completed as promised. This is coming in view of failed promises made in the past by the commission and the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs. A Legislator in the National Assembly, Prof. Steve Sinikiem Azaiki made the call following a fresh promise by the embattled Sole Administrator of the NDDC, Chief Effiong Okon, that the project would be completed from Warri in Delta State to Oron in Akwa Ibom State, in six months time, or at most not exceeding this year, all things being equal. The Sole Administrator made the promise when he visited Niger Delta's vocal elder statesman, Chief Edwin K. Clark at his Asokoro residence in Abuja. Prof. Azaiki who represents Yenagoa-Kokokuma/Opokuma Federal Constituency in Nigeria's House of Representatives, on the plank of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) reiterated that the East-West Road is the single most important social and economic infrastructure of the Federal Government spanning the entire Niger Delta, yet was left to delapidate, just as completion of rehabilitation and dualization has taken unbearable long time. The scenario, he said warranted Representives of the South-South in the Ninth House of Representatives, to jointly move a motion led by him, June last year, to direct recommencement of work on the project. As was graciously resolved, and subsequently directed by the House of Representatives, President Muhammadu Buhari approved N19.67billion to the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, and remobilized Setraco to recommence work on the Road, Prof. Azaiki added. The swift action of the Ministry at that time, came after he had written to the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, to expidite action in settling Setraco to enable it return to site, the Lawmaker further narrated. He however decried that the pace of work didn't move on as it was expected, perhaps due to last year's rains and the Covid-19 scourge. In a related development, Prof. Steve Azaiki has implored Youths from the Niger Delta to make their demands for a fairer deal for the region, within the confines of law. Prof. Azaiki made the appeal on the heels of the controversies surrounding appointment of sole administrator, and differing positions which have lead to protests at the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs in Abuja, and head office of the NDDC in Port-Harcourt. He noted that, the protests indicate renewed awareness on the part of youths, under the aegis of the Ijaw Youths Council (IYC), concerning the many years of marginalisation and deprivation arising from non-control of the region's natural resources in a perverted federal system. However, the Legislator underscored the need for lawful means, especially, as the issue of sole administrator was out of the Act setting up the NDDC. He said that the Federal Government knows the provisions of the Act, thus it is expected to constitute a substantive board, having seen the protests that trailed constitution of Interim Management Committee and the recent appointment of a Sole Administrator which are unknown to the Act setting up the Commission. He stated that the call for demanding solutions to the issues, through peaceful and lawful means was against the backdrop of the fact that the NDDC was for the Niger Delta region, thus, any actions to be taken should be for the interest of development, else outsiders and their cohorts in the region, might reap from the squabbles.
SSA COMMUNICATION/SPOKESMAN TO THE LAWMAKER