By Frank Ulom
“The same South South people are subjugating the other state. They should stop cheating Cross River State. It is not acceptable,” says Rt. Hon. Orok Duke, Commissioner Representing Cross River at the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC Board.
Duke who resumed office on Tuesday at the NDDC Office Complex in Calabar said the N15 billion the state is receiving from the N900 billion being allocated to the commission is too small and nothing to write home about.
According to him, out of the N15 billion, the state is only allowed to spend N7 billion, which is not enough to execute developmental projects.
“We have projects that are screaming for attention worth well over N15billion. 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 state. It is not acceptable. Out of N900 billion, they restrict us to N15 billion, and out of the N15 billion, they say we cannot spend more than N7 billion. What will N7 billion do for Cross River,” Duke queried.
The NDDC Commissioner said aside from the paltry N15 billion allocated to the state, there are other monthly deductions surmounting 68 per cent.
“Every month, 15 per cent of our budget is deducted, every month 50 per cent of ecological fund is deducted and paid to NDDC, every month 3 per cent 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 would 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,” Duke said.
He said the Act establishing the NDDC equates the same amount of resources among the 9 states (Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Imo, Ondo and Rivers), adding that oil production quota is only considered a yardstick in the appointment of the commission’s Managing Director.
“There’s 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 9 states of the Niger Delta, and you still come to give Cross River zero?” Duke queried.
The new Commissioner also called for synergy from Governor Bassey Otu in order to achieve President Bola Tinubu’s 8-point agenda.
He frowned at the politicians who have taken over the commission’s projects in the state to gain popularity.
CONVERSEER reports that Duke was received by Mr Kokoette Obot, Acting Director of NDDC in the state who assured the Commissioner his full support and that of all the staff.