Niger Delta Peoples Forum (NDPF) has thrown its weight behind the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) over the demand for the inauguration of governing board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
In a statement by Boma Ebiakpo, national chairman, the group said the NDDC board inauguration will ensure 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 board 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.”
NDPF said people of the region were 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 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, Godswil Akpabio, of using forensic audit of NDDC as a weapon to hijack the commission.
It claimed that since the use of interim management to run the affairs of the NDDC, 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,” 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.”