NDDC: elders’ forum urges Umana to end ongoing illegality, ensure board inauguration
25 July 2022 | 4:30 am
The Niger Delta Elders’ Forum (NDEF) has urged the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Obong Umana Okon Umana to end the ongoing illegality of administering NDDC with a Sole Administrator
The Niger Delta Elders’ Forum (NDEF) has urged the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Obong Umana Okon Umana to end the ongoing illegality of administering NDDC with a Sole Administrator and ensure the inauguration of the substantive board, following his reported commitment on Tuesday, July 19, 2022, that “under his leadership, the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) will be repositioned and rebranded to achieve its core mandate as a vehicle to drive the socio-economic development of the region.”
As reported in The Guardian Newspaper of Wednesday, July 20, 2022 entitled “NDDC will be repositioned to achieve core mandate, says Umana” the Minister was quoted as saying that action is being taken to put in place the Board of NDDC “in line with the extant law that set up the Commission.”
According to Chief Tonye Ogbogbula, National Chairman of the NDEF, the most salient issue concerning the administration of NDDC and which the authentic stakeholders of the Niger Delta have consistently demanded, and which the President had also made commitment on is to end the illegal Interim Management / sole administratorship at the NDDC and inaugurate the Board of the Commission in compliance with the law, and which commitment the President made to the nation on June 24, 2021 when he received the leadership of Ijaw National Congress (INC) in Aso Rock, Abuja. 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 and accepted, the NDDC Board will be inaugurated.” The Forensic audit report has been submitted to President Muhammadu Buhari since ten months ago, on September 2, 2021. Regrettably, the NDDC which, according to NDEF is “our foremost 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.”
NDEF cautioned that the continued illegality of the interim management committees/sole administrator contraptions administering NDDC since October 2019 in breach of the law, NDDC Act, is a national embarrassment that should be of grave concern to the Federal Government and President Buhari, most especially for his legacy when he leaves office in May 2023.
According to Ogbogbula, for a President who stated in October 2019 when he received in audience the governors of the nine constituent states of the NDDC that “I try to follow the Act setting up these institutions,” there is no better time than now to end the illegality of further administering NDDC with a Sole Administrator which is in breach of NDDC Act – the law setting-up the Commission.
The Niger Delta Elders’ Forum reminded Obong Umana that the continued administration of the NDDC by Interim management committee / sole administrator is illegal because the NDDC Act has no provision for this illegality as the NDDC Act only provides that the Board and Management of the NDDC at any point in time should follow the provisions of the law which states that the Board and management is to be appointed by the President, subject to confirmation by the Senate. According to the group, nobody is supposed to begin to administer the NDDC and utilise the huge funds accruing to it on a monthly basis without passing through this legal requirement as stipulated in the NDDC Act.
NDEF emphasized that the Federal Government, President Buhari, and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), should be concerned about the disdain of the Niger Delta people over the manner the NDDC has been handled, most especially administering the Commission with illegal interim management/sole administrator contraptions for five years in this administration’s seven years in office, and therefore needs to end the ongoing illegality in NDDC if this government is to be remembered for good in the Niger Delta.
Ogbogbula drew the Minister’s attention to a recent letter to President Buhari and the APC National leadership by an APC group, “Committed members of the APC from the Niger Delta Region,” whose letter was signed by the trio of Ebibomo Akpoebide, Menegbo Nwinuamene, and Itam Edem. In the letter, they specifically cautioned that “as it stands, the APC cannot win an election in the region except the missteps (ongoing illegality of Sole Administratorship) in NDDC are remedied and the Commission’s substantive Board is inaugurated in accordance with the law setting up the Commission.”
The APC members stated that it is “unbelievable that the nine NDDC states of Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Imo, Ondo, and Rivers, have been deprived of representation in the affairs of NDDC against the Act establishing the commission. This blatant illegal act of the Federal Government has been de-marketing APC in the region.” They insisted that “it was high time the Federal Government ended the ongoing illegality in NDDC if APC desires to win the upcoming general elections in the entire region and be remembered for good.”
The group also wondered how the APC would react if the opposition party in its electioneering campaigns “denounce APC for non-compliance with the NDDC Act and thereby denying the nine constituent states of their legitimate demands for equitable representation on the board of NDDC for the benefit of their people.”
Ogbogbula stated that the inauguration of NDDC Board, in accordance with the law is in tandem with unending calls, demands and peaceful agitations of youths, men and women, political and traditional leaders and civil society organisations who have to insist on the inauguration of the board of NDDC to ensure compliance with the NDDC Act, promote and sustain peace, equity and fairness, transparency and accountability, good governance and rapid development and transformation of the Niger Delta Region.
NDEF also stated that to “meet the yearnings of the people of the Niger Delta for development,” and together “create the necessary impact,” the nine constituent states should have their representatives (in compliance with the NDDC Act) who, sitting on the NDDC Board, will ensure that the budget of the Commission is run in the way that what is due to each state gets to them.
Niger Delta Elders’ Forum further restated that whereas the North East Development Commission (NEDC) has been allowed to function with its duly constituted Board in place, since May 2019, in line with its NEDC Act thereby ensuring 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.
The Niger Delta Elders’ Forum therefore re-affirmed that it aligns with the demands of authentic Niger Delta stakeholders for an end to the illegal sole administratorship at the NDDC, and so urges the inauguration of the NDDC Governing Board in line with the NDDC Act to represent the nine constituent states, and thereby ensure proper corporate governance, checks and balances, accountability, transparency, and probity in managing the Commission.