Fulfil Your Promise, Inaugurate NDDC Board – Niger Delta Group Urges Buhari.
In line with the legitimate demands of genuine Niger Delta stakeholders, the Niger Delta Peoples’ Forum has once again urged President Muhammadu Buhari to follow the law that established the NDDC, to keep his promise of June 24, 2021, and to inaugurate the substantive board that will manage the Commission for the benefit of the people of the nine Niger Delta states.
According to Chief Boma Ebiakpo, the group’s National Chairman, the most pressing issue that genuine Niger Delta stakeholders have consistently demanded, and on which even the President has promised and made commitments, is to end the illegal Interim Management / sole administratorship at the NDDC and inaugurate the Board of the Commission upon receipt of the forensic audit, in accordance with the law, as he promised the nation on June 24, 2021.
President Buhari’s silence on his promise to inaugurate the NDDC Board in accordance with the law and in fulfillment of his own promise of June 24, 2021, according to NDPF, is of grave concern to Niger Deltans because it demonstrates the government’s continued disregard for the region as well as its unwillingness to submit to transparency in administering NDDC.
Recall that on June 24, 2021, while hosting the Ijaw National Congress (INC) at the State House in Abuja, President Buhari told the country that the NDDC Board would be inaugurated as soon as the forensic audit report was completed and accepted.
The President said: ‘‘Based on the mismanagement that had previously bedeviled the NDDC, a forensic audit was set up and the result is expected by the end of July, 2021. I want to assure you that as soon as the forensic audit report is submitted and accepted, the NDDC Board will be inaugurated.”
The Forensic audit report has been with President Muhammadu Buhari since September 2, 2021, according to Ebiakpo, prompting the Ijaw National Congress to warn that “any further delay in the inauguration of the NDDC Board is a clear betrayal of trust and display of state insensitivity on Ijaw nation and Niger Delta region.”
The current situation in NDDC, which has been ongoing for over two years, is that there is an illegal sole administrator who serves as Managing Director, Executive Director of Finance, and Executive Director of Projects, in clear violation of the NDDC Act, which requires the separation of these duties to ensure checks and balances.
The Niger Delta Peoples’ Forum stated that the continued administration of the NDDC by the Interim Management Committee/Sole Administrator is illegal because the NDDC Act makes no provision for this. The NDDC Act only states that the Board and Management of the NDDC should follow the provisions of the law at all times, which states that the Board and Management are to be appointed by the President, subject to Senate confirmation. Nobody is supposed to start administering the NDDC and using the large amounts flowing to it on a monthly basis, according to the organization, without first passing through this legal process as provided in the NDDC Act.
The group pointed out that, while the North East Development Commission (NEDC) has been allowed to operate with a duly constituted Board in place in accordance with the NEDC Act, ensuring proper corporate governance, accountability, checks and balances, and fair representation of its constituent states, the NDDC has been run arbitrarily in the last two years by Interim committees/sole administrators, in violation of the NDDC Act.
As a result, the Niger Delta Peoples’ Forum stated that it supports the demands of genuine Niger Delta stakeholders, including ending the illegal Interim Management/sole administratorship at the NDDC, establishing the NDDC Governing Board in accordance with the NDDC Act to represent the nine constituent states, and ensuring proper corporate governance, accountability, transparency, and probity in the Commission’s management.