NDDC: A disturbing corruption alarm
The Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) the other day stirred the hornet’s nest when its Executive Director, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh said that if he were to unveil the list of looters of the NDDC, the country would collapse. Ojougboh who is in charge of projects at the NDDC points up the National Assembly as the repository of the bashers of the agency with a mandate to develop the neglected Niger-Delta region. He accused the legislative arm of government, which he tagged as the “de facto management, managers and the executive of NDDC” of scheming to stall the forensic audit ordered by President Muhammadu Buhari into the financial transaction of the agency.
However, well-meaning individuals and organisations have challenged Ojougboh to unveil the list of looters. For example, Mr. Iteveh Ekpokpobe, journalist and Fellow, Institute of Management Consultants, called on the IMC to list all looters and beneficiaries of the financial corruption in the history of the Commission. He argued that it was compelling to do so as “Questions will be asked by posterity about what we did with our past. Every looter must be made to suffer for their sins. They have stolen our yesterday. They have hands on our today. Their eyes are still set on our tomorrow.” In the same vein, Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) urged the release of the list of looters. It noted that the country would be healthier when its enemies were exposed. Nevertheless, others such as the South-South Reawakening Group, SSRG, saw Ojougboh claims as diversionary.
Given the endemic nature of corruption in the country, it is tragic to note that prising the lid on corruption could lead to the collapse of the country. Also, it is laughable to so believe because the worst things have happened in this country, and heaven, as they say, has not fallen and this would be so eternally.
We are inclined to urge that the beans be spilled without reservation for the sake of posterity. It is apposite for the people to know when they came under the weather and to serve as a basis for cleaning the Augean stable in the future. As history teaches us, there is official justice and there is of the people and God. These enemies of the people will not escape that of the people and God. Besides, unveiling the names of those undermining development of the Niger-Delta will serve an immediate purpose of naming and shaming and more important, those names should be put in the public domain as public enemies.
The stream of corruption in our country is so pervasive that every news item is soon rendered obsolete by a more horrendous one. Recently, aspects of the corruption in the development agency created to develop the Niger-Delta region, the goose that lays the golden egg, and that is Nigeria’s economic mainstay was in the public domain. It led to a tragicomic act of “off the mic please.” That was NDDC. The enveloping veil is being drawn down in ways that show that corruption in the agency extends to actors in all tiers of government that ought to be the anchor of development.
Truly, the case of the Niger Delta is disheartening. Every effort to turn around the region from its legendary deprivation is squandered on the altar of individuals’ greed. Since 1999, an estimated N16 trillion, an amount that could build three cities like Dubai has been squandered with nothing to exhibit as evidence of some forms of development. What is sad about the situation is that indigenes of the region have been fingered as part of the web of corruption. They (indigenes) are the architects of the mismanagement of the NDDC and other allied agencies including a ministry created to develop the Niger Delta region.
Corruption has been routinised in Nigeria but its resilience and putrefaction despite the effort to curb it constitute toxicity in the society. Today, given the depth of corruption, words employed by the former British Prime Minister, David Cameron, to the effect that Nigeria was “fantastically corrupt” glossed over a truly rotten society that deserves a more negative adjective.
In the past, it had a consequence for regime change even if the succeeding regime ended up being more corrupt than the preceding one. It is now the norm in the ruling class, thereby deeming hope of redemption.
Above all, it has an ever-present consequence for development. The latter is relegated to the level of rhetoric while the thieving elite corps members luxuriate in loathsome consumption consigning the citizenry to mutual recriminations.
Truth be told, corruption kills nations. Without development and investment in the people and their future, while resources are frittered away to feed the venality of the elite who have seemingly captured the state, that type of society would inherit Robert Kaplan’s anarchy explained in his 1994 essay. In his explanation, a combination of social dislocations would render the West African sub-region ungovernable.
Nigeria may not be lucky all-time. The country is already on the pedestal of anarchy and perhaps, only waiting for a final implosion. Unless there is a sudden awakening on the part of the standpatters reaping our resources, our foreseeable future will be worse than the doomsday scenario painted by Kaplan. And so before it is too late, our question, on this score is: when will the authorities in Abuja name and shame the scoundrels who have arrested the development of the Niger Delta region?