A foremost Niger Delta activist, Annkio Briggs, has rallied support for the sole administrator of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Effiong Okon Akwa.
Akwa, a chatered accountant and solicitor of the Supreme Court, was appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari on December 12, 2020, to supervise the commission following the dissolution of the Professor Pondei-led interim management committee, “over a plethora of litigations” hampering the work of the commission.
Ms Briggs called on all Niger Deltans regardless of their political affiliation and other primordial allegiances to support the new management of the commission so that it can realize its mission and vision for the benefits of the people of the region.
The activist, who spoke to reporters on Thursday in Portharcout, Rivers State, during a courtesy call on her by the sole administrator, said “We should look inwards and begin to solve our problem by ourselves.”
She disparaged those she called internal saboteurs who continue to make it impossible for the commission to deliver on its mandate.
“We have our own people sitting at the National Assembly sabotaging the NDDC. They are from Niger Delta. A particular name has come over and over that has collected so much contract. Doing what?So, if something is wrong it is wrong,” she said.
On the controversy surrounding the appointment of the sole administrator, Ms Briggs said Mr Akwa should not be blamed.
“He as far as I am concerned, he was appointed and he has done anything bad that I see for now. If he has done something I see that I don’t like, I will be the first to speak out. But for now, our attitude towards this is s a wrong attitude and we should change it towards the right attitude,” she said.
As for the issue of appointments at the NDDC, Ms Briggs said “politicians should not trade with the position of the Act whereby one politician from Bayelsa is ready to trade the position that should go for Delta State in return for position that should go for Bayelsa. It shouldn’t be like that. If it is meant for Bayelsa, it must go to Bayelsa. What is meant for Delta should go to Delta. After all the former MD, . Was he not from Akwa Ibom? Did you see us fighting against him? We didn’t. So this new attitude that has manipulated itself, that is manipulating our is evil and we have to stop it. It won’t get us anywhere.”
When asked whether it’s proper for the Niger Delta Ministry to supervise the Commission, Ms Briggs said there was nothing wrong in it, noting that “if we know what we are doing as Niger Delta people, the right place for the NDDC to be is to work with the Ministry of Niger Delta. If we know what we are doing. Otherwise, when it is in the hands or office of President or any other place, it is under people that are not from the ND. But what is in the best interest of the ND region is what we want. What is in the best interest of the ND and the development of the ND and how the fund that is coming to the NDDC is utilised for the betterment of the ND region. That is what we are asking for.”
On the ongoing forensic audit in the commission, Ms Briggs insisted no attempt must be made by anyone to sabotage it especially by a former managing director of the commission allegedly lobbying to be reappointed as the head of the commission.
“It is a rumour. I’ll take it from that angle. Somebody who the NDDC whatever says somebody should serve how many tenure, you have served your tenure, your tenure is over, you are now lobbying, you want to come back as the MD or chairman of whatever and your reason for wanting to come back is to cover up the forensic audit. Then what is your good for the Niger Delta people? Then you are just as bad as the people that we are claiming are cheating us. You are just as bad as them. I don’t care who you are. I don’t know who those people are. I don’t read them as a person. But if there is anybody that I know that is lobbying to now be reappointed as the MD, what is it that you are looking for that you did not see when you were there? What are you looking for?”, she said.
On the courtesy visit with the sole administrator were some senior staff of the commission.