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Lack of NDDC board, disservice to Niger Delta, group tells Buhari

By Guardian Nigeria
15 September 2022   |   7:56 am
Niger Delta Youths Leadership Forum (NDYLF) has described the non-inauguration of the substantive board of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) by the Federal Government as a disservice to the people of the region.

Buhari. Photo/FACEBOOK/TheAsoVilla

Niger Delta Youths Leadership Forum (NDYLF) has described the non-inauguration of the substantive board of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) by the Federal Government as a disservice to the people of the region.

NDYLF in a statement by its National Coordinator, Mr. Richard Akinaka, said: “The NDDC, as it is now, is a disservice to the people of the region. President Buhari should prove to the people of the region that he does not have malice and disgust toward the people of the region.”

According to the group, “the politicians appointed from the region as supervising ministers of the region have not helped matters. Those struggling to get appointed as supervising ministers are only out to exploit their people. It has become so bad that the commission over the years has been under the mercy of the supposed leaders of the region in this government.”

Akinaka lamented that “NDDC is at ground zero because of lack of a substantive board. The President will do a lot of service to the region if he gives the needed attention to these issues. The performance of the NDDC is not about the person in charge at the moment but about the need for a substantive board to pilot the affairs of the commission. The Niger Delta under President Muhammadu Buhari has become a neglected people. The lack of a substantive board has impeded the development of the region. The people no longer have an input in the affairs of the NDDC.”

Already, Ijaw Media Monitoring Group (IMMG) has raised alarm that the people of the Niger Delta region will not allow the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to campaign in the region, when campaign kicks off on September 28, if the substantive Board of NDDC is not inaugurated before then.

According to the National President of IMMG, Elder Asu Beks, if the board of NDDC is not inaugurated before the commencement of electioneering, “we will stone any campaign train of that ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) that is coming to the Niger Delta. So, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the presidential candidate of the party, should arrange a meeting with the Minister of Petroleum and other Niger Delta stakeholders to dialogue with President Muhammadu Buhari and make sure that this issue is resolved immediately, otherwise, we will stone any campaign train coming to the Niger Delta region.”

The National President of IMMG stated that “there is no aspect of the NDDC Act that says there should be interim management or sole administrator. But we have had up to four or five of such since the beginning of this administration. It is totally unacceptable.”

Earlier, another group, “Committed members of the APC from the Niger Delta Region,” in a letter to President Buhari and the APC National leadership, had raised alarm on the looming consequences of the ruling party’s ill-treatment of the region, especially what it described as the “ongoing illegality in NDDC,” and cautioned that “as it stands, the APC cannot win an election in the region except these missteps are remedied.”

Also, another group, The Niger Delta Rescue Movement (NDRM) has already vowed not to back the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2023 elections following the delay to inaugurate a substantive board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC). The spokesman of NRDM, Jonathan Okwa, speaking in Yenagoa, Bayelsa state, stated that following the prolonged delay of President Buhari to give the Niger Delta people what is rightfully theirs, in accordance with the law, the NDDC Act, the group would ensure the mobilisation of the people of Niger Delta region to vote against the APC in the 2023 presidential and general elections if the board is not inaugurated.

Niger Delta authentic stakeholders have consistently demanded that President Muhammadu Buhari should comply with the law setting up NDDC and inaugurate the substantive board to manage the Commission for the benefit of the people of the nine Niger Delta states.

The President had made commitments to end the illegal Interim Management / sole administratorship at the NDDC and inaugurate the Board of the Commission upon receipt of the forensic audit, in compliance with the law, and which commitment he made to the nation on June 24, 2021 when he received the leadership of Ijaw National Congress (INC) in Aso Rock, Abuja.

Also, on July 28, 2022, while declaring open a retreat for management of the ministry of Niger Delta Affairs and NDDC at the state house banquet hall, Presidential villa, Aso Rock, Abuja, President Buhari restated his commitment to inaugurate the NDDC Board.

When he received the leadership of Ijaw National Congress (INC) in Aso Rock, Abuja, on June 24, 2021, President Buhari made a commitment to the nation. The President said: ‘‘Based on the mismanagement that had previously bedeviled the NDDC, a forensic audit was set up and the result is expected by the end of July, 2021. I want to assure you that as soon as the forensic audit report is submitted, the NDDC Board will be inaugurated.” The Forensic audit report has been submitted to President Muhammadu Buhari since one year ago, on September 2, 2021. Regrettably, the NDDC which is the foremost Niger Delta regional development agency and which was set up to right the wrongs in the Niger Delta is still being run by a sole administrator appointed in breach of the NDDC Act.

Despite further assurances that the submission of the report would see to the inauguration of the board, it has not ended the delays, manipulations and hijacking of the NDDC by vested interests.

Niger Deltans are also accusing the Buhari Administration of discrimination and double standards. They point out that whereas the North East Development Commission (NEDC) has been allowed to function with its duly inaugurated Board in place (since May 2019) in line with its NEDC Act thereby guaranteeing proper corporate governance, accountability, checks and balances and fair representation of its constituent states, the NDDC on the other hand has been run arbitrarily in the last three years by Interim committees/sole administrator in breach of the NDDC Act. To the detriment of the entire Niger Delta region, these illegal interim contraptions have been used to fleece the NDDC of its funds in the last three years.

There are persistent calls on President Buhari to kindly heed the call of Niger Delta leaders, governors, youths, women, traditional rulers, civil society organisations, and other stakeholders, comply with the law setting up NDDC, and also fulfill his own promise of June 24, 2021, and inaugurate the board of the Commission to ensure accountability, checks and balances, probity and equitable representation of the nine constituent states.

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