The Niger Delta Renaissance Coalition has expressed disappointment that the forensic audit of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NNPC) earlier scheduled to be concluded this month will now be ready in July.
Reacting to the clarification by Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, that the report will now be ready in July, after which the commission’s Governing Board will be inaugurated, the group, in a statement by
Comrade Damian Nwikinaka, National Chairman, said this was “an insult to good governance and the Niger Delta people.”
It lamented that the audit of NDDC has been on for over one and a half years, while the commission is “being run haphazardly, without a Governing Board as provided for in its Establishment Act.”
The group accused Akpabio of turning the forensic audit exercise “into a circus where the process is not only being micromanaged, but that the NDDC is being run by the minister’s handpicked proxies.”
It said the Niger Delta minister has used the excuse of NDDC forensic audit to stop the process of puting the Governing Board in place as he keeps shifting the inauguration of the board.
The Niger Delta Renaissance Coalition said: “When he sold the idea of an Interim Management for the NDDC in October 2019, even after the names of the Governing Board had been sent by the President to the Senate for statutory screening, which persons the Senate subsequently screened and confirmed, Akpabio said his illegal Interim Management Committee will only stay in office for six months to supervise the audit, after which the Board will be inaugurated.
“Even then, we made the case that this was an unheard-of practice anywhere in the world, even Nigeria, where it is made to look as if having a legal Governing Board in place and an external audit are mutually exclusive. It was even pointed out by legal luminaries that the interim arrangement was patently illegal. Yet, the federal government allowed itself to be deceived by Akpabio to appoint his first illegal IMC.”
The group said by March 2020 when the audit report was expected to be ready, the first IMC Acting Managing Director, Ms Joi Nunieh, was sacked and another interim management appointed with Prof Pondei as acting managing director.
It said the minister extended the stay of the second IMC to December 2020, “by which time he said the audit will be concluded and the Board put in place.”
The group lamented that when December 2020 was drawing near, the government sacked the Interim Management Committee and appointed Mr. Effiong Okon Akwa as Interim Sole Administrator “with a promised forensic audit completion date of March 2021.”
Describing the continuous change of date as “most ludicrous capture of an agency of government by an individual,” the group accused Akpabio of turning governance into a joke and making a mockery of the Buhari administration.
It said Niger Deltans want to know why President Muhammadu Buhari and the Presidency will keep quiet while the NDDC is run in violation of the law and common sense, saying it is inexplicable that an “agency of government is being run by the minister’s proxies under the guise of an audit that has lasted for over one and a half years.”
The Niger Delta Renaissance Coalition urged President Buhari to save the NDDC, saying: “Niger Delta leaders and people are unanimous in our position that the Governing Board of the NDDC should be put in place without further delay to provide for full and adequate representation of all stakeholders in the management as provided for in the law setting up the Commission.”
It also urged President Buhari to put in place the “substantive Governing Board to return the agency to the path of law, broad representation, checks and balances, probity, equity and accountability to the Niger Delta people.”