By Ejiro Jomafuvwe
Henry Kissinger, a renowned former US Diplomat said that the success of any government is its ability to bring about new realities. When President Buhari in his quest for a new beginning, ordered a forensic audit into the activities of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) from inception to date, little did political influencers in the region imagine it would come to fruition.
When he took a further step by directing the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs to inaugurate an Interim Management Committee to create the enabling environment for the audit, they broke the secure locks of hades and unleashed ancient demons to invade television houses and game newspaper columnists with vile propaganda.
There is nothing as powerful as the self-interest of political godfathers in the Niger Delta Region. The insularity of high positions has shielded them from the problems of the common man which are basically existential. They have betrayed the people, shared their common patrimony generally and particularly in NDDC being an interventionist agency.
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The time to give account has suddenly arrived like an unforeseen hurricane and they are unprepared. As it has dawned on them that we now live in a world where our digital foot and fingerprints follow money trails in a very exponential manner, they have gone into panic mode and are openly engaging in reverse logic under many aliases to the consternation of the Nigerian public. Even their interpretation of events leading to the setting up of the Interim Management Committee has been somewhere on the spectrum from “incomplete” to “inaccurate”.
It is a shame that these people who fawn in the presence of the President have gone to great lengths to recruit front men who are dim and impermeable to reason to wantonly disparage what is clearly a simple executive action meant to improve an embarrassingly ineffective agency.
It is a pity that they do not have sufficient sense and taste not to mistrust the President. For the people of Niger Delta Region, our trust in his judgment is marrow-deep because he has demonstrated that he is on the side of the people, not special interest. Nothing can kill our enthusiasm for the new direction the President has envisioned for NDDC.
These oppressors of the masses of Niger Delta who are opposed to the audit have been speaking through their puppets with manufactured warmth and smile of concealed avarice trying to cajole us to reason with their unreason. Of all Satan’s forms of trickery and deceit, the very greatest is persuading a man that he did not exist.
There is no need reiterating that NDDC under the underhand control of the buccaneer political godfathers was synonymous with a heist. A hawk with a song is a hawk no matter how it pretends to be a songbird. They are just afraid of the consequences of their illegal and ruinous takeover of the Commission not that they are remorseful nor have they learnt anything. They are incapable of any good and cannot change any more than a zebra can change its stripes.
They are answerable only to the mammon gods of their pockets and must be resisted at all costs. The Committee must be allowed to work and the audit must proceed as ordered.
Our Governors requested the audit and are happy that a Committee has been inaugurated to manage the affairs of NDDC in the interim. Our people have been asking for the audit and now that it is about to begin, we support it. The vast majority of Niger Delta people also support that the Committee prepares the ground for the audit, work with the auditors until they finish their work, liaise with the auditors to lay down proper and clear ground rules for the conduct of affairs of the Commission before handing over to a new board that would start its work on a clean slate.
This is the minimum we expect from our loving President. Those who are opposed to this do not represent us. They cannot pretend to serve us without us. As the South Africans say: nothing about us without us. The immediate take-over of the Commission by the new board they are proposing does not represent the wishes of the people. It is a “sugar-coated Satan Sandwich” If you lift the bun you will not like what you see. Their parochial agenda has long been exposed.
It is very satisfying that the Committee under the leadership of Dr Joi. Gbene Nunieh, is already inspiring confidence and hope. It is a settled fact that her competence, confidence, fearlessness and excellence which naturally recommended her for the job is glaring. A leader of quiet determination with skills and capacity to build a team, she has remained calm, talking less and taking tough decisions.
As a result of the Committee’s work, Nigerians now know that a serving Senator is managing about 300 contracts out of which 120 have been fully paid for and 87 of them are awaiting payments. The Committee has stopped the monthly payment of N1bn (One Billion Naira Only) Consultancy Fees for a job the Commission is duly equipped to do. Under her watch, a high sense of duty and values are returning to the Commission.
She has confirmed that more than 55 contractors have gone back to site in just one week. An even larger number of contractors have indicated their willingness in writing to return to work once the rain subsides towards the end of November because of the peculiar and challenging terrain of the region.
The potential for job creation when most of the abandoned projects are reactivated is best imagined. She asked all the young men that hang around the Commission to go back to their communities where they would be properly engaged and they complied because they trust her.
She has stated that resources saved from reckless and wasteful expenditures would be diverted to providing mono pumps to give people in the rural areas drinking water which they severely lack.
The Committee to our delight is liaising with member State Governments to ensure that our children study in proper classrooms, taught by teachers who have been properly taught themselves. The members being high achieving individuals understand that our children must be prepared to compete and succeed in the new world economy.
They are critically analysing the health and infrastructural policies of the Commission to ensure that no oil-producing community is left out or behind.
The region is blessed with abundant human and material resources but its potentials have largely remained what they are, just potentials. In the midst of abundance, the region has remained stagnated with the majority of its people living in pitiable conditions and abject deprivation.
The lands of the geese that lay the golden eggs are now viewed as wastelands because an agency such as NDDC which was established to support State Governments drive developments in the region has been strangulated by the activities of confused and extremely corrupt elites with limited sense of purpose.
The elites lacking strong and viable base in production turned it into its primary instrument for primitive accumulation of wealth and would stop at nothing to let the status quo remain.
It is refreshing that the Commission through the Acting Managing Director is insisting that it begins to give hope to the hopeless, strength to the weak, job to the unemployed, good health to the sick, upliftment to the downtrodden, education to the illiterate, sustainable living to the poor, access roads and waterways to the forgotten people of the hinterlands and pride to the region.
She is urging the leaders in the region to let the power of love for our people overpower/overcome our love for power over our people. This is absolutely amazing.
This agency which suffered from the syndrome of fatal procrastination that sealed its fate and put it on the path of perfidy is experiencing the fresh air of good deeds.
We worry that the antics of moochers and men with insatiable greed who drove it to near collapse if left unchecked and unrebuked may slow down this onward march to a new dawn of limitless opportunities. The President should not let it happen. It’s a thing of joy for us as Niger Delta people that the Commission is under the supervision of the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs headed by our son who is known for his unmatched culture of excellence and delivery of what he proposes.
We challenge the Minister and members of the Committee not to be undaunted, not to give up or give in because the destiny of millions of our people are in their hands as agents of change.
We cannot afford to make our future look like our past. They must blaze a path that would ultimately illuminate new pathways and they would forever remain in the favour of a grateful region.
Ejiro Jomafuvwe, a public affairs commentator writes from Sapele, Delta State on behalf of Niger Delta Development Initiatives.