Why board has not been inaugurated – Interim administrator
Lawyers, activists puncture claim forensic audit will affect board inauguration
By Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, South-South, Sam Oyadongha, Festus Ahon, Egufe Yafughorhi, Davies Iheamnachor and Alemma Ozioruva
Shrink agitation for board inauguration —Akwa
IN a recent webinar, an online meeting, the Interim Administrator of Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Dr. Effiong Akwa, appealed to livid stakeholders of the oil-rich region crusading for inauguration of the substantive board of the commission to exercise more restraint, saying the forensic audit of agency had opened can of worms which were being treated.
Akwa represented by his Special Adviser on Youths and Sports, Engr. Udengs Eradiri, who organized the virtual program, said: “The NDDC will continue to strive hard to live in accordance with its mandate. I am aware of the agitations but I want to appeal to all those who are aggrieved to allow the Federal Government and President Muhammadu Buhari to do what it intends to do with the NDDC. He means well for the commission and the Niger Delta.”
“People have been talking about the creation of a board, I agree with that, but the forensic audit that concluded some months ago has opened a can of worms and those worms are being dealt with and that is why the issue of the board had not been formally concluded.
“I believe that by the time they finish with this process, the board will be inaugurated. Following the outcome of the forensic exercise, we can no longer rely on the existing Act. The Act is being reviewed to accommodate some of the recommendations of the report.
“The board will come when all the parameters have been put together so that going forward, the new NDDC can start on good footing. People should reduce the agitation on board and work with the current management of the NDDC”.
Bur reacting to the interim administrator, who also let slip NDDC Act was under review, stakeholders and opinion makers said it was suspicious for government to withhold the forensic audit report from the public and reviewing the Act behind closed doors.
Administrator’s removal lawful, beyond agitation —Gbemre, advocate
Delta state-based social justice advocate, Zik Gbemre, said: “First, it is inciting and diversionary propaganda to assume that the problem with NDDC has to do with weaknesses in the Act establishing it.
It is laughable for Udengs Eradiri, putting words in Akwa’s mouth, to say with the outcome of the forensic exercise, we can no longer rely on the existing Act. Which forensic audit, where is it?
“It is all grand conspiracy by the sole administrator to perpetuate self in office. In one breathe the other day, Akwa was also inducing youths to campaign to let him remain in the substantive board to be appointed.
“There is nothing special about waiting for review of the Act before appointing a substantive board. If anything, the said review must be done under a substantive board and not a sole administrator without any sense of responsibility because such office is alien, illegal against the existing Act. You cannot review the Act on illegality.
Two, the call for sack of the Akwa as sole administrator has gone beyond agitation. It is now a court order, which the President is flouting. The perpetuation of Akwa as sole administrator has therefore become contempt of court. The earlier he quits, the better for NDDC and the Niger Delta.
“Three, Buhari cannot do what he wants with NDDC. He must respect the Act. Anything outside the Act is untenable and an illegality. For seven years, Buhari has been allowed to do whatever he wishes with NDDC and what has been the result, corruption and more corruption.
“Four, it is trite to say government should publish the forensic audit report and white paper. It is so belated without justification. That makes it clear that even the hyped forensic audit has become a furthering of the fraud in the commission. Godswill Akpabio and Akwa preempted the audit outcome before the consultants started work.
“What that means is that there may be no shocker in that report that stakeholders have not heard about NDDC. The pertinent question to ask Akwa is who is stopping government from releasing the report and white paper? Is it the Niger Delta people he is urging to stop the agitation? Or is it Akwa himself, and his godfather, Akpabio that are holding down the process to perpetuate self and the sleaze in office”.
FG filibustering suspicious— Mudiaga-Odje, lawyer
Constitutional lawyer, Dr. Akpor Mudiaga-Odje, in Warri, said: “The NDDC Act 2000 has made ample and a comprehensive provision for the establishment and functions of a substantive board for the NDDC, and as such, we need not at all wait any futuristic amendment of same, before a substantive board is constituted especially in our present scenario where a duly approved board by the Senate is in existence since November 2019.”
“We are, therefore, objecting to any further delays in constituting that board as we speak. It is in accord and in concord with even common sense that such an audit report ought to be made available as soon as same was ready and/or recommendations approved by a white paper as the case maybe.
“You cannot be doing things allegedly on behalf of and for the good of a people who still do not know what you are doing on their behalf. Methinks some forces do not want the board inaugurated and the commission to function well for our benefit as procrastination of the federal government on this issue has become patently suspect.”
Ridiculous entreaty – Wills, IPA
President, Ijaw Professionals Association, IPA (Homeland Chapter) and chieftain of Embasara Foundation, Iniruo Wills told Saturday Vanguard in Bayelsa: “This is the lousiest and most nonsensical comment ever from a public institution. It is a waste of mental energy to try to analyze a statement so brazenly dishonest. To keep it a guarded secret for this long, over a year, lends credence to allegations that the purported forensic audit is phantom and fraudulent.”
“The use of the illegal contrivance called sole administrator to control and fleece the commission dry can only be part of a larger sinister plot against the Niger Delta people by the Buhari administration and its cabals. The ongoing rot in NDDC taints every minister from the Niger Delta in the Buhari administration, particularly Senator Akpabio, as extremely unpatriotic to the region.”
No basis to heed administrator’s call —Omare, activist
Niger Delta activist and lawyer, Eric Omare, opined: “It is a demonstration of impunity and disregard for the rule of law for the NDDC sole administrator to say that Niger Deltans should wait for amendment to the NDDC Act before asking for inauguration of the board. The position is that until a law is amended, you rely on the existing law and it is binding. President Buhari is under a legal duty to act in accordance with the existing law.”
On the plea to reduce agitation for inauguration of the substantive board and work with the sole administrator, he retorted: “There is no basis for that plea. Why should Niger Deltans work with an illegal contraption that does not benefit the region in any way? The interim administration is an aberration and inimical to the interest of the region.”
”President Buhari cannot do whatever he likes with the NDDC. He is under a legal duty to comply with the NDDC Act. The Federal Government should publish the report of the forensic audit and inaugurate the board urgently.”
Save N’Delta from fraudsters – Ekiye, Ijaw elder
An Ijaw elder and Publisher of EnvironmentWatch, Braeyi Ekiye, pleaded: “Buhari administration should save the region from these stage managed agitations to keep an obviously illegal interim administration in the NDDC, illegal administrations, both present and past, which had showed ineptitude and massive corrupt practices tantamount to the Act establishing the Niger Delta Development Commission(NDDC).”