Rivers State-born Charles Obi Odili is the spokesman for the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC). He joined the Commission in 2003 as a Principal Manager and rose through the ranks to become an Assistant Director to Deputy Director. He is currently the Director of Corporate Affairs.
This soft-spoken gentleman is on top of his games when reacting to pressing issues about the Commission. City People’s Business Development Manager, BUNMI DUROJAIYE visited him in his office on Aba road,
Port Harcourt and he threw more lights on why the Commission, was created and what informed its policies.
Why was the NDDC created?
NDDC was a response to the historical neglect of the region that provides vast resources for this Nation. A lot of people will not understand that whenever you take Oil for a long period of time, it has negative effects on the land, water, and the people, and there was a need to pay back.
It was like neglecting the Goose that lays the golden eggs. There was a need to take care of the Goose so that the eggs would be laid to enable everyone benefit from it. Overtime when you take Oil, from a place, it has negative impact. You have Oil spillage which pollutes the waters and fishing can no longer go on. People who inhabit this region’s main occupation is farming and fishing, so farming and fishing cannot go on, and they are those who dwell in such areas where you get the resources were impoverished.
I think it was timely when President Olusegun Obasanjo looked at it and said No, something needed to be done and so NDDC was a response to that need. He created NDDC to take care of the land and the people of those areas that produce Oil.
It can be very painful sometimes when you know you are the one providing the resources and lots of other places are benefitting from the resources. Obasanjo came timely, did that for the people, and the Niger Delta would be eternally grateful to Obasanjo for the historical assistance to the people of the region.
Can you shed more light on the budget implementation request 2020 (N80,881,610,073)
There have been a lot of issues over time, the Interim Management Committee of the NDDC has to be run no matter the issues, If you are having an audit or not, there are certain things that need to be done. It is not out of place for the Management Committee to reach out to the Presidency to say, how do we go about these things? Because salaries need to be paid to the Staff. That is the essence of the request, so that the Commission does not come to a standstill, knowing that the National Assembly is also working towards sorting out the matter.
There are no problems with the National Assembly, as a matter of fact, it is a process.
Before that process comes to a logical conclusion, somethings need to be going on that necessitated the request.
Can we talk about the verification of contractors for payment of jobs executed?
One thing you must give to Joi Nunieh-led Interim Committee is its level of transparency and desire to do things the right way. Over time, we have had conflicting figures of how much we were owing Contractors, so she says let’s really see how much we are owing. There is a verification exercise in place right now to confirm if you are truly a genuine Contractor, if you have done the job and you have presented y our papers, .
Once that is done and it is confirmed then payment will come.
Talk about the Scholarship debt of students under the NDDC Scholarship Scheme?
I think about July 2019, everyone under NDDC Scholarship Scheme was paid. If l should take your mind back to when the Acting Managing Director, Prof Nelson Brambaifa and Dr Chris Amadi visited all the various institutions where we had Students, talked with them, dialogued with their institutions. They came back and made express payment of money owed even as at that time, there was a little delay because Central Bank (CBN) could not remit the funds as at when due. But the Acting Managing Director put a lot of pressure on CBN and that money was paid, but probably there are political scholarship holders who really wanted to use that avenue to paint the Commission in a bad light.
But as l speak to you. We are not owing anybody. NDDC is not indebted to anyone who is under its scholarship scheme.
How do you unwind?
I have a loving family. My family is first. I stay at home with my family. I travel with them. Travelling is one way of easing stress when I’m on vacation. I write poems and l day-dream a lot. Part of my dreams is that this region will be a better one and Nigeria will be a greater Nation.
Can you tell us a brief history about yourself?
My name is Charles Obi Odili. I come from Ndoni in Ogba Egbema, Ndoni Local Government Area of Rivers State. We are seven in number. I am the only male and the first child of the family. I lost my father 2 months before l was born so l was raised by a benevolent and Kindhearted Uncle, Chief Fidelis Obi Odili, literally through him God gave me life and the pedigree l enjoy today through the sacrifices he made. l also had a very loving Grandmother too, who was an inspiration. My life was like a little stream; she was the sea that receive the water.
Every point in time the stream was drying up, she filled my life and l really wished she was alive today because everything she talked about, I have seen them. I went to school at an early age.
I had to go to Primary schools in different places because l was living with my Uncle, whom l called my father as a matter of fact. From Onitsha, to Aba. He was working with Internal Revenue at a point in time, so wherever he was posted, we moved along with him.
l went to secondary school, then to the University of Calabar, l read English and Literary Studies at First degree, then l went to University of Port Harcourt to do a programme in Communication, thereafter, because of the nature of my job, l wanted to do more programmes, even at the Rivers State University but there was no time.
Now, I am the Director of Corporate Affairs and the Spokesperson. I started in 2003 as a Principal Manager when l was engaged then Assistant Director, later Deputy Director and now a Director. I grew through the ranks.