The Ijaw National Congress (INC), has again called on President Muhammadu Buhari to urgently inaugurate the board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
The INC says any further delay in the inauguration of the board will be a clear betrayal of trust and display of state insensitivity on the ljaw nation and Niger Delta region.
President Buhari had on the 24 of June 2021, while receiving the leadership of the INC at the State House in Abuja, said that the NDDC board would be inaugurated as soon as the forensic audit report is submitted and accepted.
President of the INC, Professor Benjamin Okaba, in a statement released in Yenagoa over the weekend, wondered why Buhari has not said anything about the report and the inauguration of the substantive board, even after the forensic audit report has been submitted to him via the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami.
The statement reads in part: “Any further delay in the inauguration of the NDDC board is a clear betrayal of trust and display of state insensitivity on ljaw nation and the Niger Delta region. After 16 months of postponement and rigmarole, the Hon. Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Chief Godswill Akpabio has finally submitted the long overdue report of the forensic audit on the NDDC two weeks ago through AGF Malami to Mr President.
“The complexities and superfluousity that trailed the said audit process, in addition to the diversionary comments of Mr Malami, have left us with more worries and suspicion of the true intentions of the exercise.
“Why has Mr President till date not said anything about the report and the inauguration of the substantive board, over two years into the life of his 2nd term despite public concerns and condemnation on the implications of managing the NDDC as a private estate for this long.
“The INC considers it as a huge integrity test and task on Mr President to immediately submit the forensic report, undiluted to the corridors of public domain with the guarantee of free and easy access by anyone that cares, in line with the Freedom of Information Act.
“The ljaw nation is dissatisfied and displeased with the mere mention of figures such as N6trn spent on the NDDC and many others that when weighed and compared with figures from other available benchmarks published earlier by the external auditors and the office of the Auditor General, exhibit clear discrepancies and confusion of data.
“Why de-emphasise the over 1.3trn owed the NDDC by the FGN? Why no mention of the hundreds of billions of naira paid to emergency contractors between January 2020 and August 2021 while genuine contractors are still owed several billions of naira? Why the passage of the NDDC budget with a provision of N452.2BN in December 2020 when the NDDC had received only 194bn as at that date?
“To allay the fears that the Akpabio-orchestrated NDDC forensic audit will not turn out to be another scam or instrument of witch hunting, intimidating and blackmailing perceived enemies and to further short-change the ljaw nation, we demand the immediate publication of the audit report with highlights on the achievements, strength and weaknesses of the NDDC and recommendations going forward. For purpose of transparency and accountability, we also would like to know how much was expended on this audit.
“The federal government should make the outcome of the forensic audit public including publishing the names of those culpable in the mismanagement of the funds of the NDDC and abandonment of projects over the years.
“The INC frowns at the secrecy with which the outcome of the forensic audit is being handled. The people of the Niger Delta region deserve to know every detail relating to the report of the forensic audit.
“The INC also insists that there should be no cover up or sacred cows in the implementation of the outcome of the forensic audit. All the persons culpable, irrespective of class, creed and political affiliations should be brought to justice without fear or favour.
“Going forward, the federal government must stop the practice of using the NDDC as a political patronage agency which is controlled and managed from Abuja instead of by the people of the Niger Delta region. The NDDC, going forward, must be accountable to the people it was created to serve and not those in positions of authority in Aso Rock”.