Joe Effiong, Uyo
The erstwhile chairman of the Governing Board of Cross River Basin Development Authority (CRBDA), Mr Eseme Eyiboh, has asked President Muhammdu Buhari to set up an independent panel to investigate the CRBDA which according to him has been crippled by institutionalised corruption.
Eyiboh, a former member of the House of Representatives, was removed unceremoniously on the orders of the Minister of Water Resources, Mr Suleiman Adamu, via a letter signed by the permanent secretary of that Ministry, on October 8, barely two and half years since the Board was inaugurated.
In reaction to his removal, Eyiboh, the first Akwa Ibom person to be appointed chairman of the Governing Board of the Basin in more than 30 years, narrated how the Ministry of Water Resources in collaboration with the management of the agency had been bypassing the Board in order to engage in barefaced corrupt practices to the detriment of the agency and the two states (Akwa Ibom and Cross River) covered by it.
‘I will, however, not be doing the nation, and more importantly, the President any good if I do not recall some of the running battles I have had to contend with while in office trying to ensure that the vision of President Mohammadu Buhari of a corruption free society, where probity, accountability and good governance are enthroned, is achieved. I bought into the government’s anti corruption commitment and demonstrated it, knowing that Nigeria can only survive if all Nigerians, especially public officers, key into President Buharis anti corruption mantra as a national creed.
‘At our inauguration as Board members, we had taken the solemn oath to protect and preserve the public trust in our duties, through adherence to extant legislations, rules and stout insistence on ethical integrity and corporate governance. We demonstrated our Commitments to ensuring that the zero tolerance of Mr. President to corruption was respected and enforced at the CBDA.
‘The Board under my chairmanship, however, did not reckon with the organized corruption ring that had the active connivance and protection of the power grid at the supervising Federal Ministry of Water Resources. The trajectory of the Board’s running battles to ensure transparency and probity by the management of the CRBDA shows clearly that the agency’s Managing Director could not have been acting independent of a powerful protective cocoon located in the supervising ministry.
‘Six months after the composition and inauguration of the Governing Board of the Cross River Basin Development Authority by the President, the management of the CRBDA engaged in the most scandalous public auction of the Commonwealth of the people occasioning the carting away and conversations of public assets under spurious circumstances and continued to run the Authority as if there was no Board, with the Managing Director acting as a sole administrator, as it were before the Board was constituted. The Governing Board had to invoke its oversight powers by setting up an ad-hoc committee to look into the activities, programmes and projects of the Basin Authority,’ he said.
Eyiboh said the management ignored the Board to the extent that even when issued with a query by the Board as a last resort, the managing director refused to answer, just as the Minister of water resources never responded to any of their concerns regarding the excesses of the management of the agency.
He said it was rather surprising for the Minister to suddenly react to the suspension of the MD by the Board by claiming ignorant of the activities of the Basin Authority despite the fact that he was fully briefed, only to follow it up with his removal and being replaced with a member who was part of the Board and signatory to every decision then taken.
He reasoned that only an independent committee set up by the presidency would unravel the labyrinth of corruption perpetrated by the management of the CRBDA in active connivance of the supervising Ministry of Water Resources.