Niger Delta Accountability and Development Coalition (NDADC) has raised alarm about the setting up and inauguration of yet another Interim Management Committee, now with five members, barely four months after the Joi Nunieh-led Committee was inaugurated, describing it as evidence of a deliberate plan to continually delay the inauguration of a truly representative Governing Board for the embattled Commission.
In a statement signed by its National Coordinator, Johnson Epia, the group stated that it is persuaded that there are attempts to use the forensic audit exercise ordered by President Muhammadu Buhari as a ploy to thwart the inauguration of a Governing Board for NDDC, wondering why it has taken all of four months for the Ministry of Niger Delta and NDDC Interim Management to announce the appointment of an auditor who has now been given a nine-month time frame for the conclusion of the audit exercise.
According to the Group, people of Niger Delta are restive over the happenings at the NDDC and are opposed to the seemingly unending cycle of Interim Management on two principal grounds.
“One is that the IMC even at the current number of five is still not representative of all the diverse states and groups as provided for in the NDCC Act of 2000, as amended, for the composition of its Governing Board. The Act provides for representation from all nine states and non-oil producing geopolitical zones. The Board approved by the Senate has 15 members. The second reason is that the IMC has proven to be a complete waste of resources and unable to add value to the people of the region. It is clearly just a sitting committee to collect outrageous allowances without meaningful impact. The story with Nunieh, who has just been removed, has shown that it does not even have the integrity to supervise an audit.”
Johnson Epia insisted that to ensure that these new interim management appointments do not become merry-go-round the Governing Board should be inaugurated and given a clear mandate to fast-track development, while the forensic audit takes place.
According to him, it is reductionist thinking to believe that the routine governance institutions provided for an agency like NDDC must be circumscribed in order to audit its activities and processes, asking that “if that is so, why are other agencies of government not being run by interim management committees?”
He therefore urged President Buhari to abide by the NDDC Act and inaugurate the Governing Board for the Commission just like there is a proper board for the North East Development Commission, as the ad-hoc Interim Management Committee of NDDC has proven to be both unpopular and ineffective.