The Niger Delta Integrity Group has stated that the governing board of the Niger Delta Development (NDDC) earlier nominated by President Muhammadu Buhari and screened and cleared by the Senate has not been dissolved and therefore awaiting inauguration.
Reacting to a news report credited to Chief Rita Lori Ogbegbor, claiming that the substantive board of the NDDC currently awaiting inauguration was disbanded in 2019 based on a court case instituted by her against its inauguration, the group said there was no truth to this.
Ogbegbor was also reported to have requested that the Interim management arrangement in the NDDC should continue being in place until the conclusion of the forensic audit, which has been on for close to two years.
In a statement by Akpoebide Okotiene, President and Edet Ekpenyong, Secretary, the group said the board had not been dissolved, as it has not even been inaugurated, insisting that there is no court order or judgment against the inauguration of the board.
The group said Ogbegbor’s assertion was “against the spirit and aspiration of Niger Deltans who have asked why the NDDC board cannot be put in place in compliance with the NDDC Act while the forensic audit of the period up to 2019 is ongoing.”
It described as false claim that the Governing Board of the NDDC, which was appointed by the President in October 2019 and confirmed by the Nigerian Senate on November 5, 2019, was stood down on account lawsuits.
“This is capital falsehood. The truth is that the so-called claims made by her and her cohorts have not been upheld anywhere because they are false claims. All her claims do not hold water and are intended to fraudulently ambush the legitimate process. Her strategy is to throw up inaccurate, unfounded, claims with the aim of misleading the public and institutions,” it said.
The Niger Delta Integrity Group said members of the NDDC Governing Board appointed by President Buhari in October 2019 were screened and confirmed by the Nigerian Senate on November 5, 2019, after which “Mr. President asked that the inauguration of the board be put on hold pending the completion of the forensic audit, for which an Interim Management Committee was appointed for the NDDC.
“The Federal Government announced during the inauguration ceremony of the IMC that the Senate-confirmed NDDC board would be inaugurated after the forensic audit. The decision to step down the inauguration of the Senate confirmed board was not due to any court case. There was no dissolution of the Senate confirmed board as it had not been inaugurated, nor was it disbanded,” it said.
The group said President-nominated NDDC board is only waiting to be inaugurated, stating, “Mr. President has restated his intention to inaugurate the board on the completion of the forensic audit by the end of July 2021.”
It quoted President Buhari of telling members of the Ijaw National Congress, who visited him, “based on the mismanagement that had previously bedeviled the NDDC, a forensic audit was set up and the result is expected by the end of July, 2021. I want to assure you that as soon as the forensic audit report is submitted and accepted, the NDDC board will be inaugurated.”
The group urged the public, stakeholders and Niger Delta indigenes to ignore any insinuation on dissolution the board, saying that when it comes on stream it would “ensure fair representation of the nine constituent states, accountability in the utilisation of the NDDC funds, checks and balances and due process in the commission in compliance with the NDDC Act.”