Niger-Delta Development Network, NDDN has, received with interest the resolution of the South-South Governors Forum calling for a substantive Board for the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) without delay.
The group through its National Chairman, Chief Nelson A. Nkanga, commend the governors for taking a position which they have canvassed for many months now after the federal government decided to set up an interim management committee for the agency.
He said, As stakeholders in the Niger Delta, we make bold to say that the interim management committee is an illegal body that is not recognized under the Law setting up the NDDC and does not represent the interest of the people of the Niger Delta.”
“The Governors’ call is a vote of no confidence in the interim management committee which has carried on like substantive management, whereas it is the creation of one man, the Minister of Niger Delta Godswill Akpabio. It is now clear that Akpabio is the only one backing this committee for whatever reason. We call on President Buhari to heed the call of the governors and inaugurate a substantive Board for the NDDC.”
“Delta State Governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa who is also the chairman of the South-South Governors Forum said at the end of the meeting:‘We also took on the issues of the NDDC and the need to urge Mr. President to constitute the governing board of the NDDC, because we believe there are lots for NDDC to do in terms of regional projects, rather than taking on small projects. This we have to work on as quickly as possible.’”
“It is important that the governors have woken up from their slumber to address the issues that confront the NDDC at this time when Akpabio has converted it into his patronage farm for all kinds of characters as the minister has done. The NDDC today, as Governor Okowa stated, has become a Liliputian agency in spite of the huge funds at its disposal. It is undertaking small projects that do not reflect the huge amounts of budget for the agency. When Akpabio got the President to appoint the interim management committee, we warned that it was only a means of enabling a one-man control of the agency. Recall that Akpabio had stated on Channels TV that the committee will stay for six months. It is six months already, and Akpabio is surreptitiously turning it into a permanent committee by expanding its membership and approving for it a budget, which was not part of the original plan. Its original idea, according to the minister, is not to undertake projects but to act as a caretaker administration for the auditors to function. Today, a budget of N346.3 billion has just been approved for the NDDC to be spent by an illegal interim management committee. ”
“We are happy that the governors have come to realize that the minister and by extension the federal government has used them to create a situation where the NDDC is run without a substantive Board. It should be clear to all now that the ruse of the forensic audit, which the minister trumpets as a request made by the governors to Buhari has become the biggest fraud in Nigeria, because six months after it was announced, the forensic audit that was promised has not yet commenced, rather the minister has abused the excuse to extend the stay of the interim management committee. Now, an interim management committee is being promoted as a substantive board to operate the NDDC Budget in open contravention of the NDDC Act.”
“President Buhari cannot continue to ignore the authentic voices of the Niger Delta people on this issue of the illegal interim management committee. He should scrap it and heed the Governors’ call to immediately inaugurate a substantive Board for the NDDC.”