The Niger Delta Peoples Forum has thrown its weight behind the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) over the demand for the inauguration of the Governing Board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
In a statement by Chief Boma Ebiakpo, National Chairman, the group said the inauguration of the NDDC board will ensure that the agency is run in line with the NDDC Act.
It enjoined the federal government to inaugurate the board as earlier demanded by Niger Delta stakeholders, including the South South governors, traditional rulers and youth groups.
According to the group, the inauguration of the governing board of the NDDC will guarantee peace in the region, as it is important that “peace of the Niger Delta is not troubled at this time when Nigeria is facing multiple conflicts across the country.”
The Niger Delta Peoples Forum said people of the region are unanimous that the use of interim management in running NDDC was illegal, while urging President Muhammadu Buhari to “heed the counsel of stakeholders of the region who have demanded the speedy inauguration of a substantive Governing Board for the Commission and an immediate end to the appointment of illegal Interim managements.”
It said that Nigerians have long realised that such an arrangement has become “an avenue for the perpetration of fraud, along with financial recklessness and mismanagement, especially since the interim managements are not beholden to anyone.”
The group accused Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswil Akpabio, of using “forensic audit” of NDDC as a weapon to hijack the commission.
It said that since the use of interim management to run the affairs of the NDDC, a whopping N800 billion had been spent in the last 18 months.
“These monies which have been wasted by Akpabio and his team belong to the nine Niger Delta states whose citizens are being shortchanged and getting infuriated,” it said.
The group said several groups, professionals and stakeholders had stated that “there is no reason the Governing Board of the NDDC should not be inaugurated to manage the affairs of the Commission while the audit of a previous period is on, as has been the standard practice in all other government’s Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) that have been audited.”
It reminded Nigerians that President Buhari had nominated members of the governing council for Senate confirmation in October 2019 and that senators screened and confirmed 15 out of the 16 nominees.
“The Senate screened and confirmed the appointments of 15 out of the 16 nominees on Tuesday, November 5, 2019, based on the report tabled before it by the Committee on Niger Delta. The inauguration of that Board has been put on hold now for about 18 months,” it said, while urging Buhari “to put in place the board of the NDDC in line with the NDDC Act to manage the Commission for the benefit of the people of nine Niger Delta states,” it said.
The group urged President Buhari to :save Nigeria from serious crisis erupting in the Niger Delta as a result of missteps at the NDDC. He should restore the full representation of the nine constituent states on the board and management of the NDDC, as provided for in the NDDC Act to return the agency to the path of law, fair representation, checks and balances, probity, equity and accountability to the Niger Delta people.”