By Omoniyi Salaudeen
A coalition of Ijaw groups has issued out a 10-point demand to President Muhammadu Buhari over the startling revelations of financial mismanagement that has crippled the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
These include, among other things, immediate sack of the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, dissolution of the Interim Management Committee (IMC) and constitution of Governing Board, trial of all those involved in the alleged financial recklessness, recovery of looted funds as well as forensic audit to be supervised by the office of the Accountant-General of the Federation.
The group’s position was contained in a statement jointly signed by the Secretary, Ijaw Elders Forum (IEF), Lagos, Pastor Efiye Bribena, Moderator, Ijaw Nation Forum (INF), Ben Okoro, former Executive Secretary, Nigerian Content Development and Management Board (NCDMB), Embasara Foundation, Chief Amagbe D Kentebe, President, Ijaw Professional Association (IPA), Mr. Elaye Otronfanowei, and Executive Director, Niger Delta Women International Resources, Environment and Development Centre, Ms Ibiba Don-Pedro.
It stated that it had watched the proceedings of the public hearing conducted by the House of Representatives and the revelations made by the key actors with an incredible sense of loss, describing the scenario as an expression of poor quality of leadership at the helms of the commission.
It reads in part: “We, the undersigned organizations of Ijaw Nation watched with dismay the probe of NDDC by the House of Representatives in the last two weeks. We are disgusted with the mind-boggling revelations and attitude of the major actors involved in this grand heist who are mainly sons and daughters of the Niger Delta.
“Any Niger Delta person and their collaborators involved in the NDDC sleaze should apart from being made to serve the maximum penalty, be bill-boarded in their communities and kingdom.”
“The IMC or any interim body should be dissolved and a Governing Board promptly constituted in line with the NDDC Act under which the Chairman is now to be produced from Delta State (not Edo State as done with the last screened Board nominees) and the substantive Managing Director from Bayelsa State (not Delta State as in the last screening list of nominees),” the statement further added.
While blaming the inefficiency of procurement office and anti-corruption agencies for the contract scandal rocking the NDDC, the group noted disregard for due diligence as a major cause of the arrested development of the Niger Delta region.
It, therefore, urged President Buhari to dismiss the call for the scrapping of the commission, saying, “It would amount punishing the masses of the masses of the Niger Delta people who are not responsible for the rot and looting of the agency.”
Instead, it demanded for an immediate reconstitution of the Presidential Monitoring Committee to report periodically to the President in accordance with the NDDC Act.