•Say Mr. President should act before cabal finally wreaks agency

•Demand inauguration of governing board approved by Senate since 2019

2023 Presidency: North may go for Akpabio
Senator Godswill Akpabio, Minister of Niger Delta

By Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, South-South, Sam Oyadongha, Jimitota Onoyume, Festus Ahon  and  Egufe Yafugborhi

A cross section of Niger-Deltans saddened by the goings-on at the Niger-Delta Development Commission, NDDC, weekend, notified President Muhammadu Buhari that a powerful cabal in Abuja connected to the Presidency was still holding the interventionist agency by the balls, despite the resignation of Senator Godswill Akpabio as Minister of Niger-Delta Affairs.  

From Edo, Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers, Cross-River to Akwa Ibom states, the stakeholders called Buhari to stop the desperate cabal before it succeeds in its mission of ruining the agency and without much ado, hearken to the cry of the people to inaugurate the governing board of NDDC, screened and approved since 2019 by the Senate.

They explained the cabal have been undermining the oil region and suggested to President Buhari what should be done to give a kiss of life to the rudderless organization.

Cartel behind interim administration — Ekiye

Publisher of Environment Watch, Elder Braeyi Ekiye, told Saturday Vanguard: “The ingenious contrivance to get the NDDC administered through the interim administration was a calculated attempt to advance the cause of power brokers in Abuja, whose main interest, together with their collaborators, is to rip the commission clean and dry of its financial allocations, so much so that, it has unfortunately stultified the region’s rapid socio-economic and infrastructural transformation.”

 ”It is our ardent hope that the on-going despicable ‘dance of the devil’ in the NDDC in wild  celebration of the Forensic Audit Report put away in the coolers would stop forthwith, with the unceremonious departure of  Senator Godswill Akpabio,  lord  of the estate of the Commission.

“As long as this masquerade dance lasts, the dark clouds of the dance shall continue to provide cover for the task masters and their comrades-in- arm to scoop  remnants of fast depleting financial resources of the interventionist agency.”

Clique remains in charge — Omare

Former national president, Ijaw Youth Council, IYC, Barrister Eric Omare, who raved on Akpabio, said: “We Niger Deltans based on verifiable facts strongly believed that Akpabio was responsible for the mismanagement of NDDC in the past three years. Now that he is out of the way, we expect President Buhari to immediately publish the outcome of the forensic audit, bring those who have embezzled.”

“NDDC resources to book and as a matter of importance, inaugurate the board of the NDDC in line with its establishment Act. However, I doubt if this would  done because the cabal members who have been with Akpabio I do not think are out of government.  They may still be in the corridors of power and continue with the NDDC”, he said.

No lawyer to give good advice — Wills  

President Ijaw Professionals Association (Homeland Chapter), which comprises Bayelsa, Delta and Rivers, Iniruo Wills, asserted: “The president and presidency cabal obviously do not give a hoot whether there is NDDC or it has a lawful management or not.

“The Niger Delta will remember this president as the one who set a notorious record of allowing NDDC to be under a series of illegal managements for four and a half years, which is more than the full four-year term prescribed even for a legitimate Governing Board by the enabling law.”

 ”Obviously, the president does not have any lawyer around that can give him conscionable advice on the matter, so if he likes let him appoint a Pakistani as the next NDDC sole administrator. We are tired of complaining about this unprecedented executive callousness. At worst, in another one year we can say good riddance”, he added.

President breaking the law — Gbemre

But social justice advocate, Zik Gbemre, stated: “Let us stop mocking or deceive ourselves. Akpabio never meant well, but then he was not the real problem. Long before Akpabio was rewarded to have his turn, NDDC has been a cash cow and patronage agency through which a serving president lines the private pockets of political loyalists who live large and go on to use a chunk of the sudden wealth to gamble on elections.”

“So President Buhari who sustained an NDDC that shares the commonwealth among a few to the neglect and anger of the larger Niger Delta, with impunity is the problem with the commission. In mutual benefits, Akpabio was being used by Buhari to prevent the board from being functional. Akpabio was not elected but appointed by Buhari. 

“It is trite to suggest that Akpabio acted on his own in being an obstacle to the NASS cleared NDDC board members. Buhari deliberately directed his appointee not to recognize the board. Akpabio had no power to stop the swearing in of NDDC board that was duly screened and approved by the Senate. 

“With Akpabio forced out by his vaulting ambition, he does not have to do the Niger Delta any special favour, the president has been brazenly breaking the NDDC law? All he needs do is to stop the defiance of the law. The NDDC Act has no place for interim, caretaker board and worst of all, sole administrator.”

We’re skeptical – Robinson, PANDEF

National Publicity Secretary, Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, Hon. Ken Robinson, told one of our reporters: “We do not suppose that Akpabio was the main problem of NDDC.

“The primary problem is the callous indifference of the Buhari presidency to issues of the Niger Delta region. Under the supervision of Senator Godswill Akpabio as Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, NDDC was attenuated to a political porch with all manner of deplorable theatrics.

“The Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs in itself was virtually reduced to a bureau of NDDC, but Mr. President watched on like an uninterested spectator. We, therefore, do not expect any reasonable changes in the administration of the NDDC under this presidency despite the said resignation of Godswil Akpabio; let them prove us wrong.”

Let governing board function – Okaba, Uti, Mudiaga-Odge, others  

President, Ijaw National Congress, INC, Prof Benjamin Okaba, informed Buhari: “Set up /inaugurate the governing board according to the laws establishing the NDDC without further delay. Provide the needful to enable the new board function maximally.”

 For Chairman, Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Warri branch, Chief Emmanuel Uti: “I do not subscribe to the notion that it was Senator Akpabio that frustrated the NDDC board. My opinion is that, it is President Buhari that was not keen on the existence of the board. My take is that Senator Akpabio out or not, it all depends on the President’s disposition.”

 Constitutional lawyer, Dr.  Akpor Mudiaga-Odje, intoned: With or without Akpabio, what we, the pauperized people of the Niger Delta, earnestly yearn for is inauguration without any further delay, the board as duly cleared by the Senate in 2019, almost three years ago.

Chairman, Centre for Environmental Preservation and Development, CEPAD, Surv. Furoebi Akene, told Saturday Vanguard: “To start with, subjecting the supervision/overseeing of the NDDC to the Minister (Ministry) of Niger Delta Affairs is illegal and is a misnomer against the provisions of the NDDC establishment Act of 2000. The Act put the NDDC under the supervision by the presidency.”

Spokesman, Niger Delta Rights Advocates and All Progressives Congress chieftain in Rivers, Darlington Nwauju, said: “And as the appointer, President Buhari should immediately appoint substantive Ministers to that Ministry with a matching order to inaugurate a substantive board for the NDDC, publish the report of the forensic audit on NDDC and lastly, deliver on the East-West Road project.”

Set up board — Egba-Ologo

Entrepreneur and media consultant, Chief Nathan Egba-Ologo, opined: “In as much as one cannot really say what exactly is causing the delay in the inauguration of a substantive NDDC board, Niger Deltans would really love for Mr. President to constitute the board as soon as possible in order to enable the NDDC function properly as it should. At the moment, it seems like a rudderless organization that is drifting aimlessly.”

Our prayer — Alaowei, CHURAC

Chairman Board of Trustees, Centre for Human Rights and Anti-Corruption Crusade, CHURAC, Cleric Ebikonbowei Alaowei, Esq., said: “We pray that nothing should bring Akpabio back to that office again. Buhari should also immediately inaugurate the NDDC board if he means well for the development of the Niger Delta region. Mr. President should take immediate steps to investigate the commission for the periods Sen. Akpabio held it sway.”

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