…describes Commission as ‘cesspit of corruption’
A former Senate member, Senator Kassim Oyofo, has expressed regrets that he was instrumental to the establishment of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) under the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
The septuagenarian, who represented Edo North Senatorial District between 1999 and 2007, said he was aghast, discovering that the commission had killed the dream of its founding fathers and that “it’s now a cesspit of corruption”.
Speaking with our correspondent, Oyofo, who was Vice Chairman, Senate Committee on Petroleum, Solid Minerals and Environment at the time the NDDC Act was passed by veto, said he was now full of regrets that he initiated the move in the first place.
“I can say that I established the NDDC. It is the only Act since 1960 that was passed by Veto. If you understand what that means: 95 votes to two.
“Although today, when I look back, I’m sorry that I passed the NDDC Act. I should have agreed with Obasanjo not to bring the amendments I put into the Act, because the whole thing is now a cesspit of corruption,” he lamented.
According to him, all the grand aims intended for improved living condition for the Niger Delta people, through the formation of the NDDC, have been thrown overboard by a succession of corrupt leaders at the commission.
“People like (former Senate President, the late) Chuba Okadigbo, who made it possible for us to pass the Act will be writhin in his grave to see the corruption that has taken over the NDDC.
“I have never gone there to take anything from them, and I don’t want anything from them.
“We had hoped that they would, at least, improve the lot of their people, but it’s now a cesspit of corruption; the worst corruption that you can imagine,” he expressed regrets.
Oyofo, however, heaped the blame on the National Assembly, saying that the current lawmakers are lameduck and have shown incompetence in discharging their oversight functions.
He said he was shocked sometime ago to watch the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, “kneeling down for President Buhari.”
“Does he not know that he was degrading the institution of the legislature?
“That is why you cannot compare the National Assembly of our time with the one of today; because, it’s like day and night, ” he criticised.
Oyofo, a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), also urged the federal government to reconsider the recommendation in the 2014 National Confab under former President Goodluck Jonathan, which centred around the restructuring of Nigeria.
He said this would go a long way in promoting justice and assuaging frayed nerves among ethnic nationalities.
“The main recommendation (of the confab) is that government should champion restructuring Nigeria along zonal lines, so that they can contribute to the existence of the centre.
“That is what is called federation. Nigeria is not a federation; it’s like a unitary government that is not even honest,” he condemned.