Chief Prof. Jasper Jumbo (a Chieftain of Niger Delta) speaks on why the NDDC should not be scrapped, in a chat with newsman in Abuja. Excerpts;
Q: Introduce yourself sir.
A: Chief Prof. Jasper Jumbo is my name
Q: What is your take on the demand for the scrapping of NDDC?
A: What they are talking about has no bearing on the demands and aspirations of Niger Deltans. And I talk as development protagonist in the Niger Delta. We have been serving Niger Deltans for upwards of 42yrs now, with feasible and measurable results. The idea of the fund itself (an ecology fund) I introduced it. I wrote the blue print of the defunct OMPADEC. I write the blue print of the NDDC. I come from Bony. The SHELL oil terminal is on our family land; the Jumbos and the Browns. And I am the head of the Jumbos. Part of the NLG is on my family land – other oil wells.
So, I am talking as a stakeholder who has severally received the mandate of Niger Deltans to speak for them. We have been known to the whole country as the one who have been carrying their own matters.
Anybody who wants to scrap the NDDC wants to throw away the child with the dirty water and the person lacks developmental perception. I am saying it authoritatively.
I hear that one nobody, one Benjamin Style went to National Assembly (who was bought over) to come and hijack the gas flair money which his Royal Majesty, Spiff and one Dr. Mike Emu worked on over the years: with some other traditional rulers like King frank Okoroafor.
Benjamin Style and all his group want to hijack the money and go and share it and eat without doing the correct needs assessment with the communities and the main sufferers. He went there to open his mouth without the mandate of the people.
He doesn’t have our mandate. People who have our mandate to speak for the host communities is HOSTCON led by Spiff and Mike Emu. And there is no how they will call for the scrapping of NDDC. Nobody will call for the scrapping of NDDC.
The problem we have with NDDC is the lack of political will on the part of successive Nigerian governments to appoint visioners -original visioners. Those developmental experts who instituted some principles.
There are principles, I wrote the blueprint. Nobody has put those things in place, they have not used NDDC knock down the project they realized to most of the real oil producing areas. How much of NDDC have we seen in the riverine areas; in the creeks where some of these boys giving ultimate to the federal government come from.
What have Nigerian government done to the camps of the repentant militants in terms of agriculture; Millions of naira, but not much has been seen.
Who, from Akpabio to all of them, what post Covid-19 template have they put in place to take care of Niger Deltans, especially the resource areas? So, let nobody deceive you.
What government needs to do now is, when they want to constitute the board, they must get somebody on merit; those who are the visioners to head the place. Those who have integrity. Those who can look anybody face to face and say no let us develop this area.
We can’t continue going round in circles. Nigeria owes the Niger Deltans and we from Niger Delta, we owe the people. We should be coconscious enough to know that money is a statutorily allocated appropriated revenue. We must be able to use it to divulge development to the grassroots. We must use it to mobilize Nigerians so that stakeholders could have the buy-in into the development process, so that is the problem.
It is stupid and unpatriotic, developmental to even contemplate the scrapping of NDDC. It unacceptable to Niger Deltans and I make bold to say it.
Q: What is the way forward?
A: The way forward is that when they are constituting the board, they should bring in the people with vision, the people who will do proper needs assessment, organize youths to partake in developmental process.
Right now, most of the elite, the contractors have they been paid? Some people are being paid; some are dying. Enough is enough. I was in the Ministers office last week and I told the Perm Sec. that on behalf of the founding fathers, let us make a change.
People are coming and eating from the sides of the mouth forgetting some people made the supreme sacrifice to set it up.
We must talk to this nation, let the President hear me, let the Federal Executive Council hear me, because without all the sacrifices we made and put these things In place perhaps there wouldn’t have be Nigeria by now.
So, we can’t sit down and people who didn’t follow – some of them there is no single pipeline crossing their villages talk more of oil well; they are eating from several sides of their mouths and are thinking that other people are nobody.
Q: We see Nigerian factor playing out in the whole scenario, you said that government should act now.
A: They should as matter of national necessity do something. It is a national exigency, a lot of have been pumped into the NDDC. Government should go down to the grassroots. People who can go there and have stake of character to say look, National Assembly this is your percent, Presidency, this is your percent, board numbers this is your percent, youth this is your percent and such people who are not going there to go and use NDDC to become governor tomorrow. Enough is Enough.
Q: I hope the youth are not going to fight those who are trying to help them?
A: We want peace, when the companies cooperate, we want the nation to generate revenue in a peaceful environment. There is one indivisible country we have which we all believe in; we believe in what President Buhari is ding. We commend him but he should also be able to listen to us who are the fathers and owners of these things
Q: In the report presented there is a kind of conflict in the PIB.
A: We submitted a paper which is in line with also what the host communities producing oil and gas (HOSCON) (not the other people – the impostors), what they submitted. And its partially in line, a middle of the road solution with what the Honorable Minister of Petroleum said.
He looked at the operational costs, the need to seed part of the money to the communities in such a way that the cost of production will not be very prohibitive. And so that there could be profit.
The 2.5% that is contending in the bill is unacceptable. Its unattainable. It cannot be used to manage any development. Rather some school of thought that are asking for 10%. For me it’s too high. I think that between 5 and 6% will be a much more reasonable and applicable percentage to settle for. That will solve the whole problem.
And it’s not just in appropriating that fund and letting the oil companies take it and be given dollars. No, the stakeholders especially the real landlords must be involved, because out of the problem we are having in the Niger Delta is that some kings, some chiefs’ councils, try to emasculate the real landlords. And that’s where we have the problems. How can somebody get something in somebody’s backyard and you are treating him like a slave for what is coming into his land. It is not acceptable.
So, these are basic things that the bill ought to be able to find. If you are doing needs assessment let it evolve from the grassroots, from the owners. You must carry along the real landlord.
Q: Thanks for your time.
A: You are welcome.