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NDDC: Effiong Akwa is conflicted, unfit to preside over NDDC during forensic audit

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The imposition of Mr Effiong Okon Akwa as Interim Administrator of the Niger Delta Development Commission is not only illegal but an affront to the Niger Delta people.

We want to state categorically that we and all progressive organisations are opposed to this thoughtless imposition in yet a further flagrant disobedience of the NDDC Act, which spells out the manner of appointing the Commission’s executive management.

In imposing Mr Akwa,the statement by the president’s media adviser, Mr Femi Adesina, claimed that it was in response to the decision of the Federal High Court Abuja ruling questioning the legality of the illegal Interim Management Committee, also imposed by the current administration in October 2019, and similar actions in court on the same matter. Yet, in choosing to respond to that clear illegality, the Government in its strange wisdom replaced the illegal IMC with an equally illegal Interim Administrator, a position also unknown to the NDDC Act of 2000 (as amended).

While we struggle to believe the opposite, we are convinced that there is a clear agenda by certain persons in the government to not only stymie the NDDC but to corner its resources for personal selfish interests.

It is indeed strange that the Buhari Administration, which has said it is undertaking an audit of the NDDC since its inception, would choose to appoint Mr Effiong Akwa who was Special Assistant on Finance to Mr Bassey Dan-Abia, who was Managing Director of the NDDC between 2013 and 2015, a period to be covered by the forensic audit. Mr Dan-Abia himself was a former Commissioner in Akpabio’s cabinet in Akwa Ibom State, while Akpabio was Governor of Akwa Ibom State. Governor Akpabio nominated Dan-Abia as MD of the NDDC and sent Effiong Akwa to work with him as his Special Assistant on Finance during this period. Akwa’s new imposition is yet another evidence of Akpabio’s agenda to run the NDDC as his personal estate.

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The NDDC under the supervision of Niger Delta Minister Chief Godswill Akpabio has become very predictable in its corrupt ways. Days before this announcement was made, Niger Delta anti-corruption groups had raised the alarm that Akpabio was scheming to appoint Akwa as administrator.

Since he sought and got Presidential approval to supervise the NDDC, Akpabio has run the Commission through proxies, first by manipulating the appointment of the illegal IMC in October 2019 and now by installing his protege as Interim Administrator. Since October 2019,when the IMC was appointed, over N187 billion has been spent on frivolous payments, including fake contracts and dubious executive allowances. Not one project of value has been executed within this period. In imposing Effiong Akwa, the Minister has perfected his agenda to stretch the opaque forensic audit for as long as he desires to corner the NDDC resources for himself and his collaborators.

In deciding to run the NDDC through a clique personally loyal to Akpabio, the Niger Delta people are being robbed of representation in the Commission, which provides for broad representation of the nine oil producing states and other geopolitical zones and institutional interests.

This imposition, like the IMC before it, is against the provisions of the NDDC Act, and our people will resist it. We therefore call on the National Assembly to rise to the occasion and save the NDDC from the corrupt clutches of Akpabio. The National Assembly must reject this appointment. The Niger Delta people will not continue to condone the deception going on at the NDDC while Akpabio and his cohorts continue to steal our resources.

We call on Mr President and his advisers not to take the patience of the Niger Delta people for granted with the continued flagrant disregard for the NDDC Act. They should reverse this illegal appointment and follow the guidelines on appointment of the executive management of the NDDC as spelt out in the law setting up the Commission.

Comrade Damian Nwikinaka is the national chairman of the Niger Delta Renaissance Coalition.

This content is sponsored by the Niger Delta Renaissance Coalition.

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