Delta State Governor and Chairman of the South-South Governors’ Forum (SSGF), Senator Ifeanyi Okowa has described the delay of President Buhari to inaugurate the Board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) as deprivation of the entire South-South Region.
Speaking on Tuesday in Government House, Asaba, during the quarterly media briefing, Okowa expressed displeasure over the slow action of the President to set up the Board for the Commission.
He recalled that the Governors of the constituent states of the NDDC have consistently made their position known since October 2019 when the Commission has been without a board.
Okowa said, “We have made our position clear as South-South Governors. We have spoken about how we feel and it is very unfortunate that where we are at the moment, it ought not to be so. We have not had a proper board for over two years now and that is not right. Whatever situation the NDDC is operating with now is unknown to the law of this country”.
He noted that NDDC has been administered on illegality and non-compliance with the law (NDDC Act) as the nine constituent states of the Niger Delta have been deprived of their statutory representation due to the delay of the President to inaugurate a substantive board to run the affairs of the Commission in accordance with the law establishing the Commission.
Governor Okowa regretted that “the states are now being deprived of the opportunity of having their representatives at the board because behind the Managing Director and the executive directors, you have state representatives who are able to ensure that the budget of the NDDC is run in the way it ought to run, with what is due to each state, getting to them. This has not been the situation for quite some time and that is why we have always complained. We were told by the Presidency that as soon as the forensic audit report was submitted that the board will be constituted.”
The Governor therefore urged the President to make haste in inaugurating the board based on the law governing the commission.
According to him, “the report (forensic audit) has since been submitted many months ago and we are still awaiting the board. I feel that no matter what is going on, there is a law and there is a need for Federal Government to do what is right. The provision in the law ensures that there is equity and that no state is short-changed.”
The South-South Governors’ Forum Chairman noted with dismay that the region does not have any information as to when the board will come on stream and therefore urged President Buhari to inaugurate the Board without any further delay because he is the only one who is authorized by law to do so.
Recall that President Buhari promised the nation on the 24th day of June 2021, while receiving the Ijaw National Congress (INC) at the State House in Abuja that the NDDC Board would be inaugurated as soon as the forensic audit report is submitted and accepted.
The President said: ‘‘Based on the mismanagement that had previously bedeviled the NDDC, a forensic audit was set up and the result is expected by the end of July, 2021. I want to assure you that as soon as the forensic audit report is submitted and accepted, the NDDC Board will be inaugurated.”
However, the Forensic audit report has been submitted to President Muhammadu Buhari since September 2, 2021, but the President is yet to heed the unending calls and legitimate demands of the Niger Delta leaders and other stakeholders, comply with the law setting up NDDC, fulfill his own promise of June 24, 2021, and inaugurate the board to manage the Commission for the benefit of the people of nine Niger Delta states.