The attention of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, has been drawn to a litigation by the Rivers State Government which started in 2017.
The Rivers State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice had filed a suit against the NDDC seeking an order to stop the Commission from executing projects in the state without its consent.
Justice Adolphus Enebeli on Wednesday, July 29, ruled on the matter, granting a declaration that under Rivers State Physical Planning Law, State Land Law and Urban Development Law, the NDDC or its agents have no power to claim any land or execute any project in any part of Rivers State without the consent of the government.
This unfortunate development would have been unnecessary had the NDDC Advisory Committee been functional at that time because the cause of action would have been fully addressed by the body.
It is sad that the matter has persisted, in spite of the fact that the mechanism for addressing such misgivings has been revived.
Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday, March 10, inaugurated the NDDC Advisory Committee, comprising the nine governors of the Niger Delta Region and the Ministers of Niger Delta Affairs and Environment in line with the provisions of the NDDC Establishment Act.
The Act states that the Advisory committee “shall be charged with the responsibility of advising the board, and monitoring the activities of the commission, with a view to achieving the objective of the commission.”
We cannot overemphasize the importance of collaboration between the NDDC and the different levels of government as partners in the development process. That is why the Advisory Committee is put in place to provide the platform for all stakeholders to deliver development to the people of the Niger Delta region.
The Advisory Committee is charged with ensuring harmonisation of NDDC projects and programmes with the member states and making them partners rather than competitors. In addition, the states are expected to take ownership of NDDC projects and programmes, as well as check the duplication of projects.
We urge all stakeholders to help in strengthening this new approach to the development of the Niger Delta region. Litigation is certainly not the way to go.