IYC, ANEEJ urge Buhari to swear in NDDC board, appoint auditors
President Muhammadu Buhari has been urged to inaugurate the new board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and personally appoint the forensic auditors to probe the commission’s finances.
Stakeholders in the region said that lack of substantive board to oversee the activities of the NDDC is having adverse impact on the lives of people of region, particularly those in flood-ravaged communities.
The Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) President, Eric Omare, told The Guardian that all well-meaning people of the Niger Delta expect that now that Buhari is back to the country, he should immediately swear in members of the NDDC board whose names he sent to the National Assembly for clearance.
“He should do the needful as the one empowered under the NDDC Act to immediately inaugurate the board of the NDDC as confirmed by the Senate in the interest of the people of the Niger Delta. Whether the President appoints the interim management committee or not, we are vehemently opposed to that. What is important is that is there is already a governing board approved by the Senate. Once a governing board has been approved by the Senate, there is no room for any interim committee,” he said.
Omare stated that the IYC and other critical stakeholders in the Niger Delta do not expect any interim management committee to supervise the forensic audit of the NDDC because that will be recipe to compromise the process.
According to him, since forensic audit of the NDDC was ordered by the President, he should appoint the auditors and the process should be supervised directly by the President and no other person.
“The auditors should be directly appointed by the President and supervised by the President and not another person from the Niger Delta who is an interested party. He should do what is expected of him, which is to inaugurate the board and personally appoint the forensic auditors. We do not want the Minister of Niger Delta to be involved in the process of nominating forensic auditors because he is an interested party.
Buhari is the only one we have confidence in because there is no history of him being involved in the administration of NDDC,” he said.
He reiterated that it would be preposterous to allow the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, who as Governor of Akwa Ibom State for eight years, nominated former Executive Director of NDDC; former Managing Director of the NDDC, Dan Abia and he is a close ally of immediate past managing director of the commission, Nsima Ekere, to preside over a process that will audit the activities of these his political allies.
For this reason, he said the IYC remains opposed to the idea that the interim management committee should supervise or oversee forensic audit of the NDDC.
“We are not opposed to forensic audit. Let the forensic audit go on, but let the substantive board be in place and do what they are supposed to do, which is to perform their statutory duties required under the NDDC Act.
“Having a substantive board is not an impediment to forensic audit contrary to position advanced by proponents of interim management committee,” he said.
In a similar vein, Executive Director of the Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ), David Ugolor, has reiterated the call that the Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) should take over the forensic audit of the NDDC.
He has also urged Buhari to stop giving wrong signal to the world that he was not working in unison with the National Assembly.
He said that refusal to swear in those cleared by the National Assembly as members of the board of the NDDC would be a very dangerous precedent that will become a classic case of impunity in Nigeria.