Barely 24 hours after the Senate called for the dissolution of the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), a pan-Niger Delta group, Niger Delta Renaissance Coalition, has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to sack the commission’s management.
In a statement by Comrade Ebi Arogbofa, Director of Information, Strategy and Programmes, the group said the findings of the Senate Adhoc Committee on the allegations of financial recklessness at the NDDC was “a vindication of our consistent position that the IMC is a vehicle of deceit and should be disbanded.”
It commended the Senate and its adhoc committee for their diligence and commitment to duty in the assignment of investigating the NDDC.
“We note with satisfaction the adoption of the committee’s recommendations by the Senate in plenary on Thursday, July 23, to wit: that the IMC be disbanded and made to refund the sum of N4.923 billion; that the substantive Governing Board of the NDDC be sworn in to manage the Commission in line with the provisions of the law; that the NDDC be moved back to the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) in the Presidency for proper supervision; and the institution of a credible forensic audit; among others.”
The group also welcomes the recommendation that oversight of the forensic audit should be transferred to the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation to “guarantee independence, credibility, transparency and professionalism in the output of the exercise.”
It called for the appointment of a “renowned, internationally recognised forensic auditor to carry out the exercise” of forensic audit of the NDDC.
The Niger Delta Renaissance Coalition said the findings of the Senate committee and its recommendations “are not surprising to Niger Deltans (and Nigerians in general) who watched the IMC’s arrogant and brazen admission to financial recklessness and self-gratification at the Public Hearing by the Committee.”
Making a case for the inauguration of the substantive NDDC board, the group said the commission “cannot afford to have another legally inchoate interim management any further. This is a point that stakeholders from the region are agreed on. An interim management is also not consistent with the NDDC Act and due process. It is time to put an end to it, and inaugurate the Governing Board.”
The group said by virtue of the NDDC Act of 2000, as amended, “the legal management provided for the NDDC is the Governing Board. Nowhere in this country has a Governing Board of an agency been put on hold or set aside for an interim management committee, because of an external audit as canvassed by (Senator Godswill) Akpabio and his hirelings.
“As Professor Itse Sagay SAN, Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, said recently, ‘I do not see why forensic audit cannot take place when you have a regular Board. I don’t see the point in having this Interim Management Committee, which is an anomaly and which has proved to be a disaster.’ We therefore call on President Muhammadu Buhari, who has encouraged the National Assembly to speedily conclude its investigations for him to make a decision, to heed the Senate resolutions, which agrees with the broad position of Niger Deltans.”
It said “the IMC is not provided for in the NDDC Act and serves no functional purpose in the administration of the NDDC.
“The forensic audit has to be done by a reputable independent auditor, creditably and independently, just as the NNPC audit was done by Price Waterhouse a few years back while the legitimate Board and Management were still in place. The Board and Management of the NNPC were not set aside for an IMC in order to do the audit. The audit was done independently.”
The Niger Delta group said it supports all efforts by the Buhari administration to strengthen the NDDC. “This is why we resist all attempts to produce a stage-managed forensic audit report…The Governing Board of the NDDC should be put in place immediately in line with the NDDC Act. The NDDC should be run in line with the law and its governance institutions strengthened.”