An advocacy media group, Eket Federal Constituency Media Forum, says listing and inaugurating a bridge executed and completed 11 years is a sign that the Niger Delta Development Commission is still unwilling to execute another major project in Akwa Ibom State anytime soon.

On Thursday, May 30, 2024, the commission, held an elaborate event to inaugurate the Phase one of the 6km Iko-Atabrikang-Akata-Opulom-Ikot Inwang-Okoroutip-Iwochang road and NDDC 600m Bridge, with President Bola Tinubu represented by Senate President Godwill Akpabio.

But the Eket federal Constituency media group wondered why a project initiated in 2003 with phase one completed in 2013, was repainted in 2024 and commissioned amidst fanfare as a new project when the people were actually expecting to hear the progress of work on the second phase of the project.

In a release by the chairman, Comrade Itoro Etti, the media advocacy group insisted that the Agency in 2013, gave a cogent excuse for the delay in the commissioning of the project, which according to the agency was to complete the Phase two stage of the project.

“In several instances, the commission explained that the cause of the delay in commissioning the project is due to its intention to complete Phase two.

“By this, it implied that the completed portion cannot be commissioned for use until phase two is completed. The Vanguard newspaper correctly reported one of these excuses in 2015, two years later.

“The back and forth kept dragging on with a glimmer of hope as the second phase was eventually flagged off and work commenced, though very sluggishly in 2015. This level of development was widely reported in the media at various levels.

It maintained that in other parts of the Niger Delta, massive projects like schools, serious roads and bridges, power projects and healthcare facilities are executed and churned out by the NDDC yearly, while old projects are repainted and inaugurated in Akwa Ibom.

“This is irrespective of the fact that the State contributes the highest allocation to the intervention agency.

“Apart from the 600m bridge and the Hostels in UNIUYO teaching Hospital which where embarked upon by the NDDC in 2006, we challenge NDDC to show any major project it has initiated in Akwa Ibom in the past 9 years.

“As indigenes, affected by the environmental impact of oil exploration and exploitation in our backyard, we find it rather offensive that the commission is playing politics with developmental projects for the ‘goose that lays the golden egg’.

“To avoid another scenario where NDDC embarrasses itself by going to inaugurate an already existing project, we challenge the commission to publish a list of ongoing projects under its watch.”

“We fear that if took 10 years to initiate the project and complete a small part of it and another 11 years to finally commission the completed portion, it might as well take another 20 to 30 years to fully complete the project.

“When leaders reduce the plights, hardship, and daily sufferings of the people to mere chess, then such insensitivity must be rebuked and prevented.”

Afraid of the hide and seek game, the group therefore urge NDDC to come clean with the true projected timeline of the remaining part of the project and give a commitment to follow true.

The group advised the Agency to be sincere in projects allotted to the Federal Constituency, which it claims sits on top of 40% of oil and gas reserves of the Country and therefore deserves special treatment from NDDC and other federal agencies.