AKSG Vs. NDDC: The Dog in a Manger Mentality
By David Augustine
A dog in a manger would ensure that even though it is not ready to eat, no one else should come close to eating. This analogy typifies the attitude of the Udom Emmanuel government to the activities of the Niger Delta Development Commission, a federal government interventionist agency in the oil rich Niger Delta, in Akwa Ibom state. It has become imperative for voices of sanity to rise in caution in the wake of the wave of controversies and utterances emanating from government sources, wherein the issue of road projects embarked upon by the Niger Delta Development Authority have become of central concern, if not the only concern of government for now.
The advertisement of an overwhelming number of jobs by the agency for contract tenders for the state has left a lot of people in government in total discomfort as they see the number of contracts billed for the state as large enough to attract the attention of the citizenry.
Before the contract tender advertisement came, the NDDC had won the hearts of the people and residents of the state capital by reconstructing so many roads within the Uyo metropolis. At first, the people did not understand where the succor was coming from. Even some of government media handlers were not aware who was rehabilitating the roads. They went to town in praise of the Udom government for the laudable work until the NDDC came to claim what was going on.
Instead of government agents to give the necessary support and encouragement to the agency, envy and jealousy set in. at first, they tried to tie the job to the then acting Managing Director of the agency, trying in the process to undermine the incoming MD. But that did not take anything from the admiration and praise of road users for the work done in Udo Eduok street, Ukana Offot street, Itu road, Nelson Mandela street, among other important roads rehabilitated.
When the Nsima Ekere administration came onboard and announced the intention to embark on the process of awarding contracts for more roads and other life-enhancing projects across the 31 local government areas of the state, hell was let loose. Politics took over as the government saw a potential backlash against it. It was a realization that the state government could not muster the number and spread of projects announced in one swoop by the NDDC that triggered off a gall of criticisms and coordinated attacks on the agency and its management head.
The agents of government, led by the administration’s Commissioner for Works, Mr Ephraim Inyang, for the first time in the two years of the Udom Emmanuel government realized that NDDC had ever existed. They realized that the agency had in its years of existence been awarding contracts in the state, with many of such contracts either completely abandoned or shoddily done. But instead of situating the contracts and jobs done in their proper time and circumstances, they brought in Obong Nsima Ekere into the fray, all in a bid to pre-empt the likely political gains the MD would make of the new wave of contracts in the state.
It is instructive to note that Akwa Ibom state has played key roles in the management of the agency. The state has, in addition to the statutory commissioners representing the state on the board, produced at a time the chairman of the board and the Managing Director of the agency that was relieved of his appointment after only two years. The implication of this being that political expediencies had, in the spirit of the PDP era, permeated both the consideration of who got what job as well as the way and means the jobs were executed.
It therefore smacks of hypocrisy to want to foist the apparent failing of the previous management of the agency on those saddled with the responsibility of running the agency now. Ironically, the present management has already indicated its readiness to bring to book all those responsible for the spate of abandoned projects and badly executed projects awarded by the NDDC.
In an era where every part of the country is leveraging on what they have to see what they can get from the center, it becomes worrisome the manner in which the Udom Emmanuel administration is going about trying to discredit the new administration of the state-born topnotch of the agency.
I think it is the height of bad politics for the state government to see the NDDC as a rival, instead of an agency playing a complimentary role in the development of the state. It stings the ear of every right thinking person to hear the works commissioner, for instance, talking down on the agency for the good work it is doing around Ewet Housing Estate, rehabilitating roads and making life more bearable for motorists.
The Akpabio administration established an agency to be saddled with the responsibility of rehabilitating roads in the state. The agency then headed by Bishop Sam Akpan, never took off, obviously for political reasons. When the all conquering works commissioner took over the assets of the agency, he promised (as usual) to ensure a zero pothole policy in the state. Since that promise, I am sure his ministry has not rehabilitated any road within, at least, the Uyo metropolis. It therefore sounds very hypocritical for him to query the NDDC for even trying to get those roads back in form.
If actually the state government sees the NDDC as rivals, one would have thought that if the NDDC is rehabilitating Ewet Housing Estate roads, just as they have rehabilitated roads in the Federal Housing and other parts of the city, the state government should then go to other roads that are in disrepair and rehabilitated them. If they don’t know where such roads crying for repair are located, I can conveniently recommend that Mr Ephraim Inyang should move his team to the University of Uyo town campus where the road by the gates is in such a distressing state of disrepair. He should move to Okokon Etuk street and do what NDDC did to Udo Eduok street; he should move back to the Plaza where he did a semblance of repair and restore the failed portion of his attempt at repairs. There are countable other roads that the works commissioner should take a look at and stop the nauseating politics of envy and “bad belle” against the NDDC.
Let the NDDC do what it can do, let the state government do the one it can do, at the end of the day it is the people of the state that would be better off with the projects. The politics of who runs in 2019 should not rob the state of the benefit of having their son at the helm of affairs at the NDDC. Some of us are already surprised that such number of projects could be earmarked for the state, and wondering what we did with the first two years of Managing Directorship of the agency. Let us not waste the opportunities presented by the presence of our own man at the top in NDDC on the unnecessary fight for who did what and why.
The ideal thing would have been a collaborative effort between the two and the benefit would have been that both could sit down and draw up development plans that would eliminate duplication and lead to even spread of projects. But until the shadows of 2019 election are completely eliminated such thinking would continue to be a mirage. The least the state government can do is to get off the way of the NDDC and do their own thing. At the end of the day, the people will still determine who they want, that is assuming we get to that level where the ghosts of electoral manipulations are exorcised.
For now, we can only plead that the Kite should perch and the Eagle should also be allowed to perch for the benefit of the people.