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‘NDDC remains cash cow for Abuja godfathers’

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Patrick Muoboghare


• Nunieh deserves kudos for opposing treasury rape, says Muoboghare
Delta State Commissioner for Higher Education and former executive of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Prof. Patrick Muoboghare, in this interview with SONY NEME, says the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has, for long, remained Abuja godfathers’ goldmine, with Niger Delta politicians as pawns in the chess game

What did you make of the embattled former NDDC Managing Director Joi Nunieh’s ordeals with some powers that-be recently?
What people of the region owe this amazon called Joi Nunieh is to celebrate her for standing up to a further gang rape of our treasury. I am surprised that people are surprised about the offensive smell emitting from NDDC. From inception, the supposed intervention agency was not programmed to succeed. It was an attempt to shut down the mouth of Niger Delta youths.

Remember the first Managing Director, Engr. Godwin Omene, a very competent fellow, a sound mind that had all the experiences in Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC); he was manipulated out and given names, because he did not bring the money to share instead of what the agency was set up to achieve. They could not stomach Omene’s independent mind; so, subsequent MDs were instructed what to do and they have been playing balls since Omene left. Omene got a rough deal because he was not in their class of ‘thieves.’

When they get there, they played to the rules, which was okay with the masters. So it became a cash cow for politicians in Nigeria, not politicians in the Niger Delta, who were the errand boys who must do the dirty jobs or leave the seat. And they played the ball well.

Also, when Nunieh refused to do the bidding of Minister of Niger Delta, Senator Godswill Akpabio, she was sacked on spurious allegations of insubordination, as they could not tie her down. So they used the word ‘insubordination.’ And Akpabio did not know when he used that word, because the translation of insubordination under the present circumstance is that the woman did not do what he wanted her to do, and she was kicked out.

And my poor Prof. Kemebradikumo Pondei came on board. Of course, he would have been warned ab initio that if he did not play ball, what happened to Nunieh would happen to him. A poor professor receiving a meager ‘N450,000’ monthly salary to now receive N200 billion and only to remove N81 billion, and have his way. Then from the N81 billion, they started paying scholarship money meant for students studying abroad into their personal accounts.

A professor should know that monies meant for scholarships are not paid into personal accounts, but to either the students’ accounts or that of their respective institutions; they left the students to suffer! This professor knew that. He should know that. Is he not a university man who should know better? How come they are paying scholarship money into private pockets and claiming that they took the bill during the lockdown?

What could have led him to forget his cherished background?
What really happened was that there must be a way to syphon funds to pay to their godfathers in Abuja.  But the poor professor didn’t know the Akpabios of this world. So he fainted. I will also faint if I were in his shoes. When the man saw the figures being reeled out and none was in his pocket, as he had given it all out to senators, members of House of Reps, to ministers, SSAs and SAs. Like an Ijaw man said, Pondei used his head to break coconut.

The fish rots from the head, so the entire body is rotten. Subsequently, as the head is rotten, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) will be rotten, as well as Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and NDDC; the North East Development Agency (NEDC) will be rotten, even Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is rotten. What are you expecting? Are workers in NDDC not Nigerians? And whatever appointment at that level has a string firmly attached. There is a lot of money in this country. And trillions have been frittered away, and people are asking, what has happened to the trillions given to NDDC?

So what, in your opinion, happened to these huge sums voted annually?
If you want to know that, you should bring former President Olusegun Obasanjo back to answer and explain it. This is an opportunity for the country and those of us in the Niger Delta to open up as well. It is not about Nunieh or Pondei, who fits into the game very well. I pity him. Of all the accusations against him, the one that pained me most is the scholarship monies of students studying abroad paid into personal accounts. A professor?! That tells you they had worked on him very well. He had to desperately look for money to pay the grand masters at Abuja, who are quiet and you will never hear their voices in all these noise. This is Nigeria for you.
So what is the way forward?

The way forward, if I may use the words of late Bob Marley, is ‘Total destruction, the only solution’. This cabal has to be destroyed. It is not about prayers; but if the Nigeria media, which is our only hope, could painstakingly, sustain their focus on these irregularities and dig deeper into the rot, then we will begin to get round pegs in round holes. Then things will look up differently.

Look at a medical doctor who is at NDDC as Executive Director of Projects. He was the conversion of what former APC chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, propagated: that if your cross over to All Progressives Congress (APC) you sins are forgiven. He too allegedly had scholarship monies paid into his pocket. He is not executive director of education, neither that of scholarship in NDDC. How come monies found its ways into his private accounts? Is the man a university into whose scholarship monies should be paid?

It is not the way we are going about it, saying Niger Delta people are the ones spoiling the region. No! They don’t have such powers, as he who pays the piper dictates the tune and this tune is coming from Abuja. So whether the people took the monies to them or not, the monies would still be stolen.

When Nunieh was removed, for insubordination, according to the minister, did we in the Niger Delta protest? Instead of us to protect the woman for refusing to do what Akpabio wanted her to do with our commonwealth, she was left on her own to lick her wounds. And probably get killed, if not for the timely intervention of Governor Nyesom Wike of River State, who God will continue to bless.

She was not sacked for incompetence; rather, for a curious reason of ‘insubordination,’ and one of us was appointed to take her place and we didn’t protest. Even when NASS began the drama, they went to the House of Representatives and started clowning and Nigerians clapped for him! Nunieh’s removal was more of not playing to the rules, not bringing out the money to share, and not bringing out the contracts as directed. So she had to be removed from office.

That was enough for us in the Niger Delta to protect her. But we didn’t do that. So Akpabio has to bring in Pondei, his classmate from Federal Government College, Port Harcourt, to do his bidding, as Nunieh brought the resilient Niger Delta character on morality against oppressors to bear, which Akpabio and his gang could not tolerate. I respect her for the fact that she was sacked for insubordination and not for theft. I’m proud of her on that.

They wanted to get her killed if not for Governor Wike, and nobody also came to defend her. All they were saying was that she had four husbands! Are you one of the four? Is that your headache? A serious issue is on the table and all a minister came out to say was about four husbands? How does that concern the mindless stealing that she alleged she refused being used to perpetrate?

Then the minister put his poor classmate there, who didn’t know his left from his right, having spent all his adult life in the classroom. He beckoned on Pondei to come, as food was ready to be shared. So Pondei became the chief chef and that was why he fainted. Then comically, the House of Reps came up with a more ridiculous verdict that, for ‘fainting’, Pondei doesn’t have to appear at the probe again! Because the professor may likely spill the beans, especially those who are close to him, have continued to insist that Pondei wasn’t like that. And I told them that you cannot get there and not be like that. I pity him.

Joi Nunieh resisted illegal memos from Akpabio, his directors, SSAs and PAs, and she got sacked for insubordination. I’m proud of her as a Niger Deltan, that she was not sacked for theft. I feel ashamed and disturbed that we as Niger Deltans did not come to her defence by demanding what they meant by ‘insubordination.’ 


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