The Transparency and Accountability Advancement Group has faulted proposal by Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on the Niger Delta, Hon Olubunmni Tunji-Ojo, for the repeal of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) Act.
Hon Tunji-Ojo had hinted that he would propose a bill for the NDDC Act to be repealed and replaced with a new law.
One of the highlights of the proposed bill is the provision on minimum qualifications for the offices of the MD and the EDs.
Reacting to Hon Tunji-Ojo’s new proposal, Transparency and Accountability Advancement Group, in a statement by
Comrade Ebi Arogbofa, national chairman, said it was mischievous, especially given that the current legislation is clear on the qualifications for the executive positions.
The group said under Part V, Section 12(1) and (1a), the NDDC Act provides that: “There shall be for the Commission, a Managing Director, and two Executive Directors who shall be indigenes of oil producing areas starting with the member states of the Commission with the highest production quantum of oil and shall rotate among member states in the order of production; (a) have such qualification and experience as are appropriate for a person required to perform the functions of those offices under this Act.”
On the lawmaker’s position that the NDDC Act does not provide any punishment for any infraction committed within the commission, the group said: “This is not true as there are more than enough provisions in the EFCC Act, the ICPC Act and the criminal code to punish those who commit infractions in any public institution, the NDDC inclusive.”
It accused federal lawmakers of failing to defend NDDC Act when the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs disregarded the Governing Board appointed by the president and cleared by the National Assembly in line with the NDDC Act, and, instead, appointed interim managements since October 2019.
“The NDDC has been operating outside the ambit of the NDDC Act since October 2019, yet Tunji-Ojo and his colleagues did nothing to ensure that the provisions of the NDDC Act are followed,” the group said.
Transparency and Accountability Advancement Group alleged that over N400 billion had been spent by the various interim managements appointed by the Niger Delta Affairs minister since October 2019 “with nothing to show in the Niger Delta states.”
The group said the appointment of Mr Effiong Okon Akwa, a member of the previous Interim Management Committee, as Interim Sole Administrator of the NDDC, was illegal as it contravenes the NDDC Act.
“We are bothered at the continuation of this brazen behaviour of the Niger Delta Minister Godswill Akpabio, assisted by people like Tunji-Ojo, in making illegal appointments of heads of the NDDC, despite sound legal counsel that it is not only unlawful but disenfranchises the nine constituent states of the NDDC to fair representation in the development agency,” it said.
The group expressed sadness that the provisions of the NDDC Act are being violated “under the nose of the National Assembly, which must sit up and insist that the proper thing be done.”
It said the peace in the Niger Delta region should not be taken for granted as “many nationalities, groups and stakeholders have continued to question the propriety of appointing illegal interim administrators for the NDDC.”
The group urged President Buhari to inaugurate the NDDC Governing Board without further delay, saying the Niger Delta region will no longer “allow any politician or group to ride roughshod with the resources of the Niger Delta people and mess with the NDDC Act for their selfish political and corrupt interests forthwith.”
It said the interim management arrangement in the NDDC should be ended, while “the NDDC Governing Board should be put in place without any delay.”