By Ejiro Jomafuvwe
Henry Kissinger, a renowned former US diplomat said the success of any government is its ability to bring about new realities.When President Muhammadu Buhari ordered a forensic audit into the activities of Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, little did political influencers in the region imagine that 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, hell was let loose.
There is nothing as powerful as the self-interest of political god fathers in the Niger Delta. Their high positions have shielded them from the problems of the common man. They have betrayed the people, shared their common patrimony, particularly in NDDC. The time to give account has suddenly arrived like an unforeseen hurricane and they are unprepared. They have gone into panic mode and are openly engaging in reverse logic under many aliases to the consternation of the Nigerian public.
For the people of the Niger Delta region, our trust in the President’s judgment is marrow-deep because he has demonstrated that he is on the side of the people, not special interests. 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 with manufactured warmth. There is no need reiterating that NDDC under the control of political godfathers was synonymous with 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 learned 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 must 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 properly and prepare 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. The immediate take-over of the commission by the new board they are proposing does not represent the wishes of the people.
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 got her the job are glaring. A leader of quiet determination with skills and capacity to build a team, she has remained calm, talking less and taking tough decisions. Under her watch, 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 willingness to return to work once the rain subsides towards the end of November. The potential for job creation when most of the abandoned projects are reactivated is best imagined.
The committee to our delight is liaising with member state governments to ensure that our children study in proper classrooms, and are 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 analyzing the health and infrastructure 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. Amid abundance, the region has remained stagnated with the majority of its people living in pitiable conditions.
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.
It is 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 because the destiny of millions of our people is in their hands as agents of change.
*Jomafuvwe, a public affairs commentator, writes from Sapele, on behalf of Niger Delta Development Initiative.