By Onozure Dania
No fewer than 127 youth associations from the nine states of the Niger Delta, yesterday, cleared Managing Director of Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Mr Nsima Ekere, and members of the board of alleged involvement in acts of corruption, extortion and under performance.
The youths, under the aegis of the Amalgamation of Niger Delta Youths for Peace Initiative, NDYPI, described the alleged charges brought against the management of NDDC as fabricated lies, malicious and orchestrated attempts by some sponsored youths to derail the noticeable performance of the commission.
Some aggrieved members of the youth associations led by the former Secretary of the group, Mr. Peter Uche, had in a petition sent to Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo and Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, accused the NDDC boss, Ekere, and members of the board of engaging in alleged extortion of contractors, under performance and corruption.
But NDYPI, led by its President, Henry Nwabueze; General Secretary, Ambassador Raphael Horsfall; Chairman of Chairmen (Rivers), Tony Anucha and Blessing Victor-Ben (Bayelsa), in a statement described the allegations as orchestrated charges sponsored by some powerful forces within and outside the region.
According to the group, “the dissidents led by the former secretary had been replaced six years ago and at no time did the organisation meet to take such decision as presented by him in the petition. We, therefore, see the petition as the handiwork of the opposition and detractors of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration.
“Those who signed the petition had been suspended as members of the group and will be called to appear before a disciplinary committee for forgery and gross misconduct.”
On the findings of the group on the performance of NDDC since the assumption of office of Nsima Ekere, the youths passed a vote of confidence in the commission in the area of zero tolerance for corruption and impunity, proactive development strides, effective public financial management and procurement policy.
It said: “We unanimously pass a vote of confidence in the board and the entire management of the commission as they continue to strengthen basic management capacity for planning, budgeting, delivery, monitoring and evaluation.”
“We commend the commission’s effort to restructure the directorate of project monitoring and supervision, on one hand and the procurement unit, on the other hand and indeed, all other directorates, departments and units of the commission, to adhere strictly to industry best practices and extant regulations in the discharge of their duties.”
“The funding sources of the commission are clearly outlined in the act that established the NDDC and we are aware that the Federal Government, oil and gas producing, processing companies operating in the region have been consistent in their contributions to the commission and at no time did the leadership of our organisation went to court or took decision of going to court to stop the oil and gas companies and the Federal Government from performing their statutory functions in line with the NDDC Act.”