Impact of NDDC on the development profile in the Niger Delta Region

The peculiar development challenges of the Niger Delta was recognized well before political independence of Nigeria with the setting up of the Wilkins Commission in 1958, that recommend how the area should be developed. Based on its recommendations, the Niger Delta Board was set up in 1961. However, not much was achieved before the outbreak of Political Crisis in Western Region in 1962, of which the then Delta Province was a part until 1963. There came the Nigerian Civil war of 1967 – 1970. Another effort thereafter was made to develop the Niger Delta with the establishment of the Niger Delta Basin and Rural development Authority in 1976. Later, a Presidential Task Force was sets up in the face of youth restiveness in the region while 1.5 percent of the Federation Accounts was allocated to it for the development of the region. This again failed to make an impact. Then in 1992, the Oil and Mineral Producing Areas Development Commission (OMPADEC) was set up for the same purpose. OMPADEC could not make any noticeable impact until it was scrapped in 1998.

To address the renewed and heightened wave of youth restiveness in the region following years of neglect and underdevelopment in the midst of oil wealth, the Federal Government in December 2000 set up the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC). The Niger Delta Development Commission is a Federal Government agency established by the former Nigerian president, Olusegun Obasanjo with the sole mandate “to conceive, plan and implement projects and programmes for the sustainable development of the Niger Delta area” and to undertake infrastructural development in the region. The NDDC began operation in early 2001. In September, 2008, President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua announced the formation of a Niger Delta Ministry, with the Niger Delta Development Commission to become a parastatal under the Ministry.1

The NDDC was created largely as a response to the demands of the population of the Niger Delta, a populous area inhabited by a diversity of minority ethnic groups. With the emergence of oil as a major resource in the country, the correspondence of the main oil-producing areas and the Niger Delta has resulted in the delineation of the region to include all borderlands of the Delta which produces Oil. Thus, Niger Delta is now defined to include Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Imo, Ondo and River States.2  The characteristics of the area includes four main ecological zones exist in the region. Namely, coastal inlands/coastal sandy barrier ridge zone, mangrove swamp zone, fresh water swamp zone and lowlands rain forest zone. These ecological zones provide variegated opportunities for development which includes outlining the pattern of farming and non-farming activities as well as the settlements pattern in the area.3

The region has five major linguistic and cultural groups – the Ijaws, Edos, Delta, Cross Rivers, Yoruba, and Igbo. The Ijaws, which are the largest and are said to be the oldest settlers in the region, has numerous clans each of which has linguistics and cultural distinctiveness. They occupy the whole of Bayelsa State and are found in Rivers, Delta, Edo, Ondo and Awka Ibom State.4

In spite of cultural affinities and interactions, inter-ethnic conflicts are common in the regions. The competitions for resources especially land which is very scarce has been tense and is accentuated by the emergence of oil. It has been observed that “there is little doubt that the incidences of such conflicts may have been considerably less if there was meaningful planning”.5

At this juncture, the populations of the 9 states in the region as well as the age and sex distribution of heads of households in the Niger Delta Region would be analyzed for easy comprehension. The data are presented in 3 tabular forms.


Population of Niger Delta States (1991 – 1998)

  Male 1991 Female 1991 Total 1991 Total 1998
Abia 1.126 1.231 2339 2.843
Akwa Ibom 1.168 1.242 2.410 2.930
Bayelsa * * * *
Cross River 0.956 0.955 1.911 2.324
Delta 1.272 1.319 2.591 3.149
Edo 1.085 1.086 2.171 2.641
Imo 1.167 1.319 2.486 3.022
Ondo 1.882 1.904 3.786 4.602
Rivers 2.240 2.070 4.310 5.239
Nigeria 44.530 44.463 88.993 108.191
  • Figures are for Ondo & Ekiti States and Rivers and Bayelsa States.

Source: Fed. Office of Statistics, Annual Abstract of Statistics, 1999 edition.6

Table 1 shows the population of states in the region. Table 2 gives the age distribution of heads of households in the region. From a survey of 2260 households in the region in 2000/2001, it was reported that 85.5 percent of the household heads are in the 21 – 60 age group only 1.4 and 10.0 percent respectively are in fewer than 21 and over 60 age groups. Thus the bulk of household heads are in the economically – active age groups. Table 3 shows the distribution of household heads by sex. It reveals that 66.1 percent of the households have male headship.


Age Distribution of Heads of Households in the Niger Delta

Age in years Number Percent
0 20 31 1.4
21 – 4 978 43.3
41 – 60 953 42.2
Over 60 223 9.9
Non – response    

Source: Developments Policy Center 2001 (p.54).7


Sex Distribution of Heads of Households in the Niger Delta

  Number Percent
Male 1991 88.1
Female 254 11.2
Non-response 15 0.7
Total 2260 100.0

Source: Development Policy Center 2001 (P54)8

One of the main aims of establishing the NDDC was to facilitate/engender the rapid, even and sustainable development of the Niger Delta into a region that is economically prosperous, socially stable, ecologically regenerative and politically peaceful. The NDDC operates under the mandate of improving social and environmental conditions in the south-south region, which it acknowledges as horrific in its own reports.9

NDDC is currently funded by both the Federal Government and Oil Companies. The Federal Government gives 15 percent  of the 13 percent oil revenue allocations allocated to the nine States to NDDC while the oil companies contributes 3 percent of their annual budget to the NDDC fund. Finally, 50 percent of funds due to the member states from ecological fund are also allocated to the NDDC.10

The commission has developed a formula whereby 60 percent of its funds are spent in proportion to the amount of oils produced in each State. Although its governing board has government – nominated representatives from each of the nine States, sadly members of the Civil Society (a source of counter pressure) from the region are conspicuously absent from the board. The Commission’s budget for 2001 and 2002 was respectively N10 billion and N14 billion. However, the National Assembly only allocated N15 billion of its 2002 budget. Apart from delays in the releases of approved allocations due to prolonged face-offs between the Executive and National Assembly which delays passage of Appropriation Bills, there are evidences that the commission does not receive even the approved allocations. By March 2002, only N17 billion had been approved by the National Assembly, for instance, report in February 2002 of a Federal Government – appointed committee (Special Security Committee) on Oil-producing states notes that the States were only being paid 7.8 percent derivation fund instead of 13 percent.11 The case of NDDC which does not have any political clout can be better imagined.

The House of Representatives’ NDDC Oversight Committee was inaugurated by speaker in August 2003. On the occasion, the committees observed:

We (do) note that some oil companies are not complying with the provision of NDDC Act. We have also noted that even the Federal Government is not fully complying with the provision of the Act. For example, an oil company which year 2002 budget was $2.235 billion made a deduction of $627 million from its budget before making its 3% deduction from the remainder. Another company budgeted $1.203 billion for 2002 but deducted $504 million before the 3% was worked out. These deductions are referred to as first Charges. As in June, 2003 what the oil companies have contributed to NDDC is $25 billion, Federal Government’s contribution is N20 billions and is paying 10% instead of fifteen percent.12

Yet the federal government has proposed an amendment to the NDDC Act which will reduce the Federal Government’s contribution to 13 percent and that of oil companies’ to 2 percent and increase that of States in the region to 10 percent. There is already lack of agreement among some States – notably. Delta and Edo state – on the justification for State contributions.13

As at 2003, NDDC recorded some progress in infrastructural development. Three hundred and fifty-eight projects have been completed across the region. Forty-one landing jetties and ninety-three waters schemes. Also, eighty-one electricity projects and one hundred and ninety building construction works for Schools and Health Centres have been completed. The breakdown of completed projects by states is: Abia 40, Akwa Ibom 53, Bayelsa 47, Cross River 4, Delta State 97, Edo 38, Imo 31, Ondo 31 and Rivers 17. A total of 714 infrastructural projects have been awarded so far.14

Reports on projects have however, not been all complementary. In the case of Akwa Ibom State, NDDC projects are handled by contractors nominated by the State government; hence they may be subjected to abuse of political patronage. Also there is “massive project abandonment” in the State (Akpe 2003)15

Reports on NDDC activities in Bayelsa and Delta States have generally been totally without blemish. For example, a report by the Isoko Progress Front states that Isoko North and South have got a sizable number of meaningful projects dotted in some of the major town and villages in Isoko Land. Over 90 percent of these projects have been commissioned and the contractors have been paid. Out of the three free medical heath programmes for Delta State, one was located in Oleh General Hospital while the others are in Sapele and Patani Local Government Areas respectively. More than one thousand sick persons are reported to have been treated freely. The commission has also supplied desk and teachers’ tables to Schools. Some Isoko Primary and Secondary Schools were provided with 120 dual desks/benches, 7 teachers’ tables and nine chairs each. The commission has also made provision for training youths in the region in computer literacy. Delta State was allocated about 580 places out of which Isoko was given 86 slots in the programme.16

In the case of Bayelsa State, Oloibiri, the legendary small community which hosted the first oil well in Nigeria, for a long time was lacking basic infrastructure. In fact, it was often cited by resource control agitators as a symbol of neglect. However, early in 2003, NDDC constructed and commissioned a 100,000-gallon Water Project in the Community (with a twin 50,000 – Gallon capacity water tanks) and a landing jetty. These brought much relief to the Community. In reaction to this development, the paramount ruler of the Community, King J. C. Egba states:

My council of chiefs and I as well as the entire people of my kingdom want to use this medium to say a big thank you to the NDDC for making us to enjoy the benefits of Oil exploration in our community for the first time. The NDDC has provided our Community with a 100,000 – gallon capacity water works and largest jetty in Bayelsa State… NDDC has been able to partly wipe out the tears of our people occasioned by over 46 years of neglect by both the Oil Companies and successive intervention agencies, set up to bring development to  the Niger Delta Region.17

In Kiagbodo in Burutu Local Government Area, a borehole and a cottage hospital built by the NDDC are functioning.

On the other hand, however the Eastern bye-pass which the NDDC celebrates as one of its most laudable projects has been described by critics as only a few kilometers of dual carriage way with poor finishing and which currently terminates few poles of the Trans-Amadi/UTC junctions .18 By the way road projects account for 46% of NDDC budget.

Members of Civil Society also accord NDDC some pass mark. For example, Joseph Kariboro, Assistant National Secretary of South-South peoples Conference and Secretary of the Rivers State chapter says:

So far I would say that the NDDC as an interventionist agency has through its activities succeeded in penetrating the subconscious of the people. There are some areas where you see jetties being constructed, Hospitals and Schools being built and water schemes too. Similarly, Austin Opara, Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives submits:

There are things on ground to show in Port Harcourt Local Government Area, my constituency in particular. I have two NDDC projects which are going on.19


This notwithstanding, youth restiveness still persists so much that some critics feel NDDC should do more. For example, the popular view at recent Reference Workshop of stakeholders on Oil-producing Communities in Bayelsa State was that the NDDC has not had much impact on the development of the region. The commission is accused of not carrying the communities along in planning development project, and thus there is a lack of project ownership. It is also accused of operating independently ignoring inputs from state governments by way of ideas. A case in point was that the State Ministry of Health was not informed about a medical programme at a local hospital for people with eye problems carried out by the commission with some experts. One finds that the NDDC, thus, faces criticisms from the Civil Society and government for its lack of transparency and collaboration with stakeholders in its operations. 20

The NDDC maintains that it does not have the resources to do much and that less than three years of existence with logistics difficulties is too short a time to have much impact. Fortunately, it seems to find an ally in the former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Austin Opara, who states:

But we need to be patient a little more. The area is devastated but let us be a little patient so that we can achieve development.21

This defense does not however address the criticism of lack of transparency and collaboration.

It seems however, that the scale of developmental needs in the region is beyond what NDDC alone can handle, even if its entire budget is released to it regularly. The South-South Peoples Conference make this suggestion, saying further that empowerment of the youths is important and needs to be given maximum attention. For instance, Joseph Kariboro emphasizes:

The youths, seen as the primary agents of restiveness must be given opportunity for training. You have to train them to understand the environment and what they can do to have gainful employment or be self employed. They (government) have to open up the economy in such a manner that would enable every one of us to have access to the opportunities provided.22

It is perhaps in the light of this observation that a more effective institutional framework should be created in the oil-producing States which would be more transparently to utilize accruals from oil derivation allocations. So far the States have not been seen to utilize this allocation visibly in the oil-producing Communities and NDDC has also not been seen to perform any better.23

It must also be emphasized that the issue of sustainability of NDDC projects may not have received adequate attempt to make its presence felt throughout the region, NDDC may have spread its budget too thinly without paying attention to sustainability. Unless this issue of sustainable development is addressed, there may be a repeat of the Oloibiri experience across the region.24

According to the paramount ruler of Oloibiri community for instance, potable water was provided for his community over 25 years ago but the facility went bad and nobody refurbished it.25

It is hoped that the issue of sustainability would therefore be addressed in the master plan for the development of the Niger Delta currently, being prepared by the NDDC with the help of the World Bank Institute and the German GTZ Group through a consultational process involving various relevant stakeholders. (See NDDC, 2003)26


  1. Taiwo, ” Yar`adua creates ministry of Niger Delta”. This Day,     September 11, 2008. Retrieved 2009- 12-26.
  2. ANEEJ (2003). Report on Stakeholders’ Workshop on Oil Producing Communities in Bayelsa State, Yenegoa, November 13, 2003.
  3. Ibid
  4. African Development Bank (2002), African Development Report. Abidjan
  5. Development Policy Centre,” Socio-Economic Mapping of the Niger Delta”. Report prepared for Shell Petroleum Company by Development Policy Centre, (2001).
  6. Office of Statistics, Annual Abstract of Statistics, 1999 edition
  7. P.C, Op. Cit, 2001, P.54
  8. Ibid at 54
  9. ANEEJ, Op. Cit. 2004
  10. Niger Delta Development Commission (2003). “NDDC in Action: Roads, Jetties and Water Schemes”. The Guardian (Lagos) June 25. 2003 P 47.
  11. Human Right Watch (2002). “Nigeria: The Niger Delta – No  Democratic Dividend”. New York.
  12. Vanguard newspaper, 28th September, 2003 (pp. 15 – 17).
  13. Eifert B. et al, “Managing Oil Wealth”. Finance and Development (Ist March, 2003). PP. 40-44.
  14. Akpe, “Of NDDC, Oil Companies and Abandoned Projects”, The Punch Newspapers, May 14, 2003, P 14.
  15. Ibid
  16. Elekodo, B. et al, “NDDC Performance Catches the Eyes of Isoko Progress Front”. The vanguard newspapers, (September 26, 2003. P7).
  17. The Guardian (Nigeria), 22nd September, 2003 (p. 15).
  18. Obiri, and K. Ebiri . “Niger Delta Communities and the Imperative of More Attention”. The Guardian (Lagos)(September 22,2003. p. 15)
  19. Kariboro, Commendation Speech by the Assistant National Secretary of South-South Peoples Conference and Secretary of the Rivers State Chapter. Vanguard, August 23,2003. Pp.20&24
  20. Elekodo B. et al Op.Cit.(2003).
  21. See NDDC Profile, 2002
  22. Kariboro, Op.Cit. 2003
  23. Moffat, and L. Olof “Perception and Reality: Assessing Priorities for Sustainable Development in the Niger River Delta”. Ambio Vol 24. 7/8(1995). December pp. 527.538.
  24. E. Aigbokhan , “Challenges and Options for Social Welfare Development in the Niger Delta”.2003
  25. Vanguard newspaper editorial titled “The ISPO Scandal. (September 28, 2003). pp 15 – 17.
  26. See NDDC Profile, 2003
  27. Mofat and L. Olof, Op.Cit. 1995
  28. Nsirimovu, Anyakwe ed “Extractive Industries and Economic, Social and Human Rights”. Port-Harcourt: Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian law. (2003).
  29. Adebanwu, (2001). “Nigeria: A shell of A State”
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