*Accuse Akpabio of undue interference
By Perez Brisibe
REACTIONS have continued to trail the Mrs. Joy Ghene Nuieh led 3-man steering committee of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC with the Ijaw Youth Council, IYC, Oro Youth Movement, OYOM and the Vanguard for Transparent Leadership and Democratic, VATLAD describing the committee as “illegal and provocative.”
The groups who made their positions known, Wednesday in separate statements by their leaders, also accused the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio of “undue interference” on the activities of the commission and demanded his immediate sack.
IYC in a statement by its president, Eric Omare, stated that since his appointment as Minister of Niger Delta Affairs have allegedly led to instability and confusion in the Niger Delta region especially with respect to the management of the NDDC, Senator Akpabio should be immediately sacked.
He said: “The activities of Chief Akpabio since his appointment as Minister of Niger Delta Affairs have led to instability and confusion in the Niger Delta region especially with respect to the management of the NDDC.
“The IYC completely reject the 3-man NDDC steering committee because it is not in the interest of the NDDC and the Niger Delta region to set up such a committee when the Senate has begun the screening of the nominees with a promise to complete the exercise within seven days.
“We make bold to state that Akpabio’s intention in setting up an interim management committee with one of his political loyalist Chief Ibanga Bassey Etang as Acting Executive Director, Finance and Administration is to use the NDDC to promote personal aggrandizement at the expense of the development of the Niger Delta region.
“Since assumption of office, Chief Akpabio has taken several actions in relation to the NDDC that are detrimental to the interest of the region, hence we are calling for the reversion of the order granting the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs supervisory powers of the NDDC as we had initially thought that it was the right decision, rather, his conduct has shown that the NDDC under the Niger Delta Ministry would not be able to achieve its statutory responsibilities.”
OYOM president, Comrade Etifit Nkereuwem on its part, said the inauguration of the committee is contrary to the commitment of President Muhammadu Buhari in the development of the Niger Delta region.
He said: “We make bold to describe the committee as illegal and unknown to law and the NDDC act and an unnecessary distraction of the vision of Mr. President for the overall forensic audit of the commission and we therefore strongly reject it for the interest of democracy, justice and rule of law.”
VATLAD president, Emmanuel Igbini on his part described the announcement of the committee as a “rude shock of illegality that will not stand.”
He said: “We received with rude shock and total disappointment, the announcement by the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Sen. Akpabio, to the effect that he has inaugurated a 3-Man Steering Committee to take over the running and management of NDDC and to oversee the appointment of Forensic Auditors and completion of the Audit before the new Board of NDDC would be allowed to resume to carry out its lawful mandate after the constitutional confirmation by the Senate.
“We wish to state unequivocally that we strongly and totally object to this fraudulent, unlawful and provocative action of the Minister because it is a deliberate violation and desecration of the 2001 Act of the National Assembly establishing NDDC and threat to our democracy.
“It must be noted that it was never contemplated and will never be contemplated that a so-called Steering Committee be constituted to run and manage the affairs of this very critical and important agency of government (NDDC) even when an Interim management board is in place and a new statutory board is very soon to be inaugurated.
“Now hiding under the cover of the proposed forensic auditing of NDDC to act so lawlessly and unconstitutionally should not be allowed and must not stand.
“It has been stated and agreed by all of us who are critical Stakeholders of the Niger Delta Region that indeed there is need to urgently sanitise the management of NDDC and also that of the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, both of which have been enmeshed in years of massive looting and misappropriation of funds released to them.
“It is also worthy of note that we, the people of the Niger Delta Region, have also been demanding for forensic auditing of the States of our Niger Delta Region over similar alleged monumental looting of funds released to the States which includes Akwa-Ibom State that Minister Akpabio was the immediate past Governor.”
Posing a series of questions to Akpabio, Igbini said: “Why then did Minister Akpabio not request that President Buhari withhold his appointment and inauguration as minister until the appointment of forensic auditors and completion of similar forensic auditing of the ministry of Niger Delta Affairs?
“Why is Sen. Akpabio not more concerned about the abandoned dualisation of East-West Road for which hundreds of billions of Naira was reportedly released to the Ministry but looted? Why is Akpabio more interested in hijacking the NDDC rather than concentrate on sanitising his Ministry and to very urgently deliver on the East-West Road which has become death trap and led to deaths of many people including a former interim Managing Director of NDDC and his son?
“We want to remind Sen. Akpabio that the NDDC and Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs are two independent agencies of government with distinct responsibilities though complementary. We never demanded for Ministry of Niger Delta or any Ministry for that matter, to take over the control and management of NDDC, no matter what mismanagement may arise.”