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NDDC: Niger Delta governors are complicit in Akpabio and IMC’s Corruption

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The revelations of fraudulent payments and financial recklessness at the National Assembly investigations and public hearings into the management of the NDDC under the IMC has exposed the weak governance structures in place, including that of the Niger Delta Development Advisory Committee, which is made up of the governors of the nine constituent states of the NDDC.

The Advisory Committee was announced by Akpabio and inaugurated on March 10th by President Muhammadu Buhari. Section 11 (I) of the NDDC Establishment Act of 2000 as amended, charges the committee with the responsibility of advising the NDDC Board and monitoring its activities. However, despite all the noise made by the governors, they have failed.

Under their watch since the Committee was established, the IMC has spent billions of naira illegally in fraudulent payments and reckless spending. The governors are a shame to the people of the Niger Delta in that they failed to curtail the excesses of the IMC, and even promoted it at a time that perceptive Niger Delta groups were raising issues of corruption and mismanagement at the NDDC.

The report of the Senate Adhoc Committee on the allegations against the NDDC IMC, which the Senate adopted in plenary on Thursday July 23, is an indictment not just of Akpabio and the IMC but the governors who constitute the Advisory Committee of the NDDC. It is clear that they have failed to monitor the NDDC under the IMC. They failed the Niger Delta people and should honourably admit it, rather than issuing soulless statements of their commitment to the NDDC, as they often do.

We warned in March when the constitution of the Advisory Committee was announced, that Akpabio was only recruiting his friends to validate his fraudulent schemes by putting a veneer of endorsement on the actions of the IMC. We said then that the IMC is an illegal contraption promoted by Akpabio, and the proper thing to do is to inaugurate the Governing Board of the NDDC so that other governance institutions, such as the Monitoring Committee and the Advisory Committee, which are supposed to work together, can function as provided for in the NDDC Act.

We find it reprehensible that while the whole corruption saga of the NDDC at the openly-conducted public hearings by the National Assembly committees, was pouring over before our eyes, including the shameful admission of financial recklessness by the IMC, the Niger Delta governors did not rise in condemnation of the objectionable conduct of the illegal IMC. What the governors as Members of the Advisory Committee have done is a criminal conspiracy of silence with Akpabio and the IMC as the resources of the Niger Delta people are stolen and mismanaged.

We applaud the Senate for demanding that the legal management and governance institutions of the NDDC, including its Governing Board, be inaugurated immediately, while the IMC is disbanded. The recommendation that the NDDC be moved back to the Presidency is heartwarming.

The IMC should also take steps to immediately refund the N4.9 billion dubious payments as directed by the Senate. These include N85.7 million for overseas travels to the United Kingdom (collected during the covid-19 lockdown); N105.5 million for scholarship grants (paid to the accounts of IMC members), N164.2 million for union members trip to Italy, N1.9 billion for Lassa Fever kits; N1.1 billion for ‘public communication’ and N1.5 billion for COVID-19 relief; all paid without due process.

The failure of the Advisory Committee in monitoring the IMC compels us to agree that the NDDC governance institutions be properly constituted. We ask President Buhari to inaugurate the Governing Board, sack the IMC and recover all stolen funds, as recommended by the Senate.

Comrade Godknows Sotonye is the national coordinator of the Transparency and Accountability Advancement Group.

This content is sponsored by the Transparency and Accountability Advancement Group.


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