NDDC’s can of worms
Sir: When accountability is dethroned, impunity and its many co-travelers take its place. With each worm that wriggles free of the NDDC`s can of worms, which currently lies open at the National Assembly, Nigerians look on in horror at what has become of their country and its institutions. The conception and formation of the Niger Delta Development Commission by statute on July 12, 2000 was a rousing response to a cry for justice. In an irony that is distinctly Nigerian, it had become the norm that the region whose oil had long lubricated the ponderous and irritable wheels of the country had stared down many years of pollution and neglect.
While many Nigerians and members of the international community had called for more inclusion and attention for the region, they received mostly deaf ears. In some of history`s worst injustices and atrocities, the blood of some activists indigenous to the region was spilled in the struggle. So, a national sigh of relief greeted the establishment of the Niger-Delta Development Commission in 2000. However, all those who thought it the end of the region`s neglect were soon shown up as wishful thinkers.
One corruption scandal after another has dotted the footsteps of the commission since its inception as the Nigerian cankerworm of corruption has burrowed deep into it, showing a cunning fecundity in the process. Nigerians are collectively horrified that in times when the coronavirus pandemic has reduced the livelihoods of many to ruinous rubbles, humongous amounts cannot be accounted for by those running the commission.
That the NDDC has always been run by people from the Niger Delta region betrays a frightening sabotage of a people and a region by their own. The states in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria must consider themselves cursed for the type of leaders they have had since Nigeria returned to democracy in 1999. These leaders who make the biblical prodigal son seem the very soul of prudence by their extraordinary profligacy with public funds have done as much to compound and complicate the region`s problems as has an unjust sharing formula spun by illusory federalism. The failure of leadership in the Niger Delta region is a microcosm of Nigeria`s struggle to be well led.
However, things must change and this change must begin by enshrining a culture of accountability in the NDDC and the Niger Delta region as a whole. This culture of accountability must commence by calling to account all those who have mishandled the funds of the commission since its inception. Some of them have previously tangled with the law but found escape through the many cracks in the system. With each revelation at the probe, it becomes clearer that huge funds, which should go into redeeming the environment in the Niger Delta and giving the people better lives have been, stolen. Those responsible for any form of financial malfeasance against the good people of the region and Nigeria as a whole must never be allowed to escape the tentacles of the law.
Nigerians are bracing up for more horror, as a situation of pot calling kettle black is seemingly afoot in the probe. There have always been allegations of contract grabbing leveled against the legislators by members of the commission. Nigerians are waiting with baited breath. The NDDC has largely failed in its core mandate of developing the Niger Delta region. Its shameful failure now mocks blood and sacrifices of the long-suffering people of the Niger Delta who have shown such remarkable fortitude in the face of grave injustices. It must be scraped and its enormous resources channeled into a better body with a heart for the good people of the Niger Delta.
Kene Obiezu, wrote from Abuja
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