By Festus Ahon
The people of Niger Delta Region on the platform of Niger Delta Watch, on Tuesday, accused the Minister of Niger Delta Ministry, Senator Godswill Akpabio, of running the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, as a privately-owned company, alleging that he has brought the commission to its knees.
The group, in a statement by its Executive Director, Policy Development, Mr. Peters Nkang, said: “Today, what the region wakes up to see is the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs hiring and firing acting Managing Directors of the commission, who are now more like his personal staff, having succeeded in arm-twisting Mr. President to concede the supervision of NDDC to him, which he now administers as a privately-owned company.
“Nigerians are being deceived daily with the much-publicised inconclusive forensic audit, which is merely a ploy to scuttle the implementation of the region’s development masterplan and deny the Niger Delta people the dividends of democracy.
“Development of the entire region has been stalled. Billions of naira are being siphoned on regular basis by this illegal contraption called the interim management committee.
“NDDC has been reduced to a unit of the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, where the minister calls the shots daily. Why the North-East Development Commission is allowed to carter for the needs of the North-East region, NDDC has been grounded to massage the ego of one man.
“The Niger Delta region’s development has become abandoned and now continuously destroyed by the activities of those who only care about their pockets at the detriment of its people.
“The President must put an end to this deceit the Niger Delta people are being confronted with in the name of an illegal interim management committee.
“It is wrong for persons to be surreptitiously appointed to preside over the funds of NDDC without passing through the scrutiny and approval of the National Assembly or usurp the powers of a duly-constituted Board as provided in the NDDC Act.
“Today, the Minister of Niger Delta has just gone ahead to bring in his secondary school classmate as another acting Managing Director of NDDC, instead of allowing the Governing Board to be in place in line with the NDDC Act.
“There is no spectacular administrative function the interim management committee is doing that a substantive board cannot perform.
“The region is faced with a litany of abandoned projects and stalled development owing to this avoidable crisis artificially created by these actors to achieve pre-determined outcomes.’
“From the foregoing, it has become incontrovertible that the interim management committee has no special role to play in the commission rather, it has added to the depletion of its resources that ought to be channelled towards the development of the region through its self-enrichment drive of the team.
“President Muhammadu Buhari must quickly nip this in the bud by allowing the NDDC to be run by a duly-constituted governing board approved by the Senate just as the North-East Development Commission is currently being run by a duly constituted board, approved by the Senate.”