By Victor Graham
A group, the Niger Delta Renaissance Coalition has thrown their weight behind the demands of governors of the South South states for the inauguration of a substantive board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
The group said the composition of a board for the NDDC is the right thing to do, which is in accordance with the Act establishing it.
National chairman of the group, Comrade Damian Nwikinaka said in a statement that the Minister of the Niger Delta, Chief Godswill Akpabio, has employed every excuse to run the NDDC like his personal property.
He alleged that since the imposition of illegal interim managements by Akpabio in October 2019, fraud, financial recklessness and mismanagement have become the order of the day, especially since the interim managements are not beholden to anyone but Akpabio.
Part of the statement read: “We are in full agreement with the demands of the Governors of the South-South States for the immediate inauguration of the Governing Board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to run the agency in line with the NDDC Act.
“We are pleased that the Governors of the Niger Delta states have now spoken out against the convoluted manipulations of the NDDC by the Niger Delta Minister Chief Godswill Akpabio, who has employed every excuse to run the NDDC like his personal property.
“We have always said that since the imposition of illegal interim managements by Akpabio in October 2019, fraud, financial recklessness and mismanagement have become the order of the day, especially since the interim managements are not beholden to anyone but Akpabio.
“We support the legitimate demand of Niger Delta stakeholders that President Muhammadu Buhari should do the needful to put in place the board of the NDDC in line with the NDDC Act to manage the Commission for the benefit of the people of the Niger Delta states.
“In the last 18 months (since October 2019), the NDDC has had three Interim Managements all appointed by Akpabio. The first was headed by Joi Nunieh, the second by Prof Daniel Pondei, and the third is the Interim Sole Administrator in the person of Effiong Okon Akwa, a former personal aide of Akpabio when he was Governor of Akwa Ibom State between 2007 and 2015.
“Effiong Okon Akwa was also Special Assistant on Finance to a former NDDC MD (Bassey Dan-Abia). If, indeed, the idea is to supervise a credible forensic audit from its inception to 2019, which also covers the period of the Dan-Abia regime in NDDC (2013-2015), then Mr Effiong Akwa clearly cannot be the right person to supervise the conclusion of the forensic audit of the NDDC.
“It also exposes the folly in the whole excuse of having the audit before inaugurating the Governing Board. As we have stated previously, there is nowhere that a Governing Board of a public agency in Nigeria has been set aside for the purpose of conducting an external audit, not even when the current Buhari Administration audited all revenue earning agencies including the NNPC and the NPA between 2016 and 2017.
“The current tension in the Niger Delta is because of how Akpabio has monopolised the running of the NDDC and frittered away its resources. The Niger Delta people deserve better. Mr President should heed the call of the people, terminate this interim administrator imposition and put in place the substantive Governing Board of the NDDC, to return the agency to the path of law, broad representation, checks and balances, probity, equity and accountability for the Niger Delta people”.