Fred Itua, Abuja
Youth leaders from the various states that make up the Niger Delta have praised President Muhammadu Buhari for extending the tenure of the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
They have also hailed the intervention of the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs and former Minority Leader of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio, for insisting on transparent dealings in the NDDC.
In a letter addressed to the President and made available to newsmen in Abuja, coordinator of Niger Delta Youth Vanguard, Ovie Ekere, said years of underperformance by the Commission and corruption will be addressed by the interim board.
Last week, President Buhari extended the tenure of IMC of NDDC till December to enable it to conduct a thorough forensic audit of the Commission.
The Niger Delta youth leaders, while pointing out how trillions of naira were wasted by previous heads of the Commission, said the IMC will make judicious use of the resources.
Ekere said: “We do not doubt that with the way they have attacked this brief, more salacious details would emerge in the weeks ahead on how the NDDC was plundered blind by those who were supposed to superintend over the judicious use of its resources for the greater good of the people. Posterity will not forget you all. You all are already on the right side of history.
“Mr President, again, we thank you for not paying heed to those harbingers of doom who did not see anything good in the IMC. In reality, they knew that since the Minister for Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, inaugurated the committee and launched – with your backing – a forensic audit into the books of the NDDC, their days were numbered and all their corruption closets were about to be flung open.
“It would be recalled that in less than one month of its constitution, the IMC discovered that the immediate-past NDDC management awarded 1,921 ‘emergency contracts’ at N1.070trillion in just seven months, against an annual budget of about N400billion. This confirmed allegations of high-level corruption, flagrant abuse of due process, abandoned projects, poor quality project delivery, among others at the NDDC.
“Since its inauguration in October 2019, the IMC, a necessary intervention at this dire time for the interventionist agency, has attacked its duty like Hercules, in Greek mythology, while cleaning the Augean stable. The masterstroke was when news filtered out that the IMC had recommended that some of the directors believed to have been culpable in the corruption spree and those who had disciplinary issues should go on leave.
“Such measures are what some of our institutions need to perform optimally and for the reasons that they were established. We commend the members also for staying the course and not allowing themselves to be swayed by the strident and sustained oppositions to their performance.
“More importantly, we salute Mr Akpabio for his unwavering commitment to ensuring that the agency fulfils its mandate to the Niger Delta people for whom it was originally established, not for a thieving few.
“Despite all the darts hurled at Mr Akpabio, the media attacks both online and in the traditional media; and to the point of being accused of fraudulently awarding a N5.5 billion contract for the procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE) for health workers in the fight against corona-virus in the nine member-states of the commission to a Port Harcourt-based company, Signora Concepts Services Limited, he didn’t lose sight of the finishing line.
“The allegation turned out to be false after all as the NDDC and Signora Concepts Services Limited, in separate reactions, dismissed the claims, insisting that there was no such contract. Neither did Akpabio buckle under the strain of the blackmail that he makes dubious payments and collects kickbacks from contractors, allegations that were obviously fabricated against the Honourable Minister.”