Niger Delta People’s Forum (NDPF) has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to end the interim leadership arrangement in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) by inaugurating the duly nominated and confirmed governing council.
This is just as the excuse that a forensic audit of NDDC must be completed before the board is inaugurated was described as untenable.
National chairman of the group, Chief Boma Ebiakpo, in a statement yesterday expressed sadness that for one-and-a half years, the NDDC supervised by Minister of Niger Delta Affairs Godswill Akpabio, has been “run by a succession of interim managements while putting on hold the governing board nominated by Mr President and confirmed by the Senate in line with the NDDC Act.”
Ebiakpo urged President Buhari to accede to the demand by the South South Governors Forum that the governing board be inaugurated saying since 2019 the agency has had three illegal interim managements imposed on it, contrary to provisions of the NDDC Act. He said the governors’ strongly worded statement followed months of complaints, petitions and anger from elders and people of the nine constituent states of the NDDC.
“The governors were unequivocal in their demands in the statement read by Governor of Delta State and chairman of the forum, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, who said that the running of the NDDC in over a year by an interim committee, and now, an interim administrator is worrisome as it does not augur well for the people of the Niger Delta as opportunity for all states to be represented as they ought to be in the board of the NDDC does not exist.
“It also followed reports detailed in the National Assembly probe of the Interim Management Committee and other revelations by whistleblowers that several billions of naira have been squandered by the interim managements with nothing to show on ground. At the last count, over N400 billion has been frittered away with no visible projects apart from N10 billion expended on the headquarters building which was already 70 per cent completed.”
It said forensic audit has been used to justify the illegality and fraud being superintended at the NDDC and that an external audit cannot be carried out in an agency, except by the legally provided-for board.
“The reality is that Akpabio and a number of his interim managers have been deeply involved in the flawed management of the NDDC over the years which should ordinarily disqualify them from supervising the forensic audit of the operations of the NDDC for those years. Akpabio served as governor of Akwa Ibom State between 2007 and 2015 during which time he nominated a chairman, a managing director and NDDC state representatives. His Interim Sole Administrator, Effiong Okon Akwa who is supposed to oversee the audit was a key player in a past NDDC management facilitated by Akpabio when he was governor. Akwa was first appointed as General Manager of Akwa Savings and Loans by Akpabio and then posted as Special Assistant on Finance to former NDDC MD,Bassey Dan-Abia, who was nominated for the position by Akpabio. If, indeed, the idea is to supervise a credible forensic audit from its inception to 2019, which also covers the period of the Dan-Abia regime (2013-2015), then Akwa clearly cannot be the right person to supervise the conclusion of the forensic audit. That management was sacked by President Buhari on assumption of office in 2015.