September 14, 2011 / 2:47 PM / 9 years ago

Nigeria to clean up oil delta agency - president

A man fetches a sample of crude oil spilled into a drainage from a nearby oil field in Ikarama community in Bayelsa State of Nigeria's delta region August 20, 2011. Picture taken August 20, 2011. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye

ABUJA (Reuters) - Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan pledged to clean up a government agency tasked with developing the oil-rich Niger Delta region after reports commissioned by the presidency found evidence of fraud.

The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) receives hundreds of millions of dollars a year in oil revenues to develop the poverty-stricken delta, a vast region filled with swamps, creeks and winding waterways.

An investigative committee told Jonathan that NDDC was “acutely crisis ridden” and recommended “immediate intervention” after it found that projects funded by the agency were never completed and funds had gone missing.

“We will do whatever it takes to sanitise the NDDC,” Jonathan told members of the committee at his villa in the capital Abuja on Wednesday, according to a statement.

“Project abandonment is totally unacceptable to us. The era of contractors taking money and not doing their work is over. If the NDDC is to act as a catalyst for development in the Niger Delta, then we must act to redeem the situation.”

Nigeria is Africa’s largest crude oil exporter, but the majority of the millions who inhabit its oil-rich region live on less than $2 (1.27 pounds) a day and are often subjected to dangerous levels of pollution caused by the energy industry.

Militants and protesters have regularly sabotaged oil infrastructure belonging to an industry from which they see little benefit.

Jonathan is the first Nigerian president from the Niger Delta.

Reporting by Felix Onuah; Writing by Joe Brock, editing by Jane Baird

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