The Ondo State chapter of the Niger Delta Emancipation and Justice Forum has accused the Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Olubunmi Tunji Ojo, of diverting NDDC projects and employment opportunities meant for oil producing communities in Ondo State to non-oil producing communities of the state.
According to the group, NDDC establishing law stated that “In exercising its functions and powers, the commission shall have regard to the varied and specific contributions of each member state of the Commission.”
Specifically, the establishing law of the NDDC provided that the production quantum of each member state will account for the projects and employments that will accrue to the State, and bearing such provision in mind, the Governing Board of the NDDC maintained a specific sharing formula.
According to the formula, for Inter State: regional projects (including project administration cost takes 25%; income capacity enhancement takes 5%; equality of States 25%; volume of oil according to states 35%; Opex/Capex 10%, making a total of 100%.
While for intra-state revenue sharing: equality among local government areas takes 20%; Oil Exploration Zone (producing and non-producing) is 10%;. Pipeline Communities 10%; Area of volume of oil production 60%, making a total of 100%.
The group said that in Ondo State, only two local government areas – Ilaje and Ese-Odo are under NDDC areas and are qualified for NDDC projects and employment benefits.
The group said that NDDC had maintained the approved sharing formula since its inception but as soon as Tunji Ojo who represents Akoko North East/Akoko North West Federal Constituency became the Chairman of the House Committee on the NDDC in 2019, “he began to hatch the plot on how he would maximize the benefits from the NDDC to his people in Akoko North East/West to the detriment, pain and anguish of the Niger Delta area of the State.
“The first thing he did was to collude with the Interim Management Committee (illegally put in place by the Buhari Administration) to appropriate all the projects meant for Ondo State, especially, the Niger Delta Area to Akoko.
“In the 2021 NDDC Projects, rather than following the laid down procedure in the NDDC in the distribution of projects, Hon. Bunmi Ojo went berserk and without a modicum of conscience adorned Akoko North East/West with NDDC projects. He ensured that virtually all the projects in the area were fully funded.
“It is instructive to note that out of the 66 projects awarded in the NDDC for Ondo State, Hon. Olubunmi Ojo ensured that over 16 choice projects were taken to the four local governments in Akoko.
“For Tunji Ojo to conceal his evil deeds against the Niger Delta Area, he categorized some of the projects into LOTS,” the group said in a statement signed by Barrister Eniola Ayenuberu, in Abuja.
The group maintained that “By the sharing formula put in place in the NDDC, 20% of the 66 projects were to be shared amongst the 16 Local Governments that are outside the Niger Delta mandate area.”
It stated that “The number of projects would have been about 13. Since there was no board in place in the NDDC during this period, Hon. Bunmi Ojo doubled as the Ondo State Representative and the Chairman of the House Committee on the NDDC. He broke all the known guidelines put in place by the NDDC and became a law unto himself, manipulating the award of contracts solely to his Federal Constituency.
“Hon. Bunmi Ojo abused the privileges of his office and bastardized the guidelines put in place at the NDDC. He exhibited an unprecedented nepotism with reckless abandon! To worsen the situation for the Niger Delta Areas, Tunji Ojo used his position as the Chairman of House Committee on NDDC to FULLY FUND all the projects he allocated to Akoko and made no provision whatsoever for the projects in the Niger Delta Area.”
The group further lamented that “It was not enough for Tunji Ojo to divert the projects for the Niger Delta Area to his communities in Akoko, he went further and gave virtually all the employments due to Ondo State to his kith and kin in Akoko.
“Out of the 36 employments allocated to Ondo State, Tunji Ojo ensured that 27 (twenty-seven) of them were allotted to his people in Akoko. This is the height of greed, selfishness and nepotism.
“The above are just a few of the evils Hon. Olubunmi Tunji Ojo meted on the people of the Niger Delta Area of Ondo State by using his position as the Chairman House Committee on the NDDC.
“While we are not complaining about the stupendous wealth the “Honourable” came into while he served as the Chairman House Committee on the NDDC, we wonder what Senator Peter Nwabuoshi did in the Senate Committee on the NDDC that fetched him the prison term!
“We appeal to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to save us from the hands of Hon. Olubunmi Tunji Ojo so that he will not inflict further injuries on us. We plead with Mr. President to direct appropriate agencies to look into these issues.
“We also plead with the Honourable Speaker of the House of Representatives to save us from untold hardship Tunji Ojo subjected us to by appointing a person from the Niger Delta Area to man the House Committee on the NDDC,” the group added.