A group, “Committed members of the APC from the Niger Delta Region” has written the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Obong Umana Okon Umana to express their disappointment with the “delay in inaugurating the NDDC Board and the continued stay in office of a Sole Administrator in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), in flagrant violation of the NDDC Act.”

In the group’s statement jointly signed by the trio of Ebibomo Akpoebide, Menegbo Nwinuamene, and Itam Edem, the APC members cautioned that the “ongoing illegality” of administering NDDC with a Sole Administrator contraption has “damaging consequences on our great party, the APC, as we approach the commencement of electioneering campaign for the 2023 general election.”

READ FULL STATEMENT BELOW

As Niger Deltans and committed members of the All Progressives Congress (APC), we write to express our disappointment with the delay in inaugurating the NDDC Board and the continued stay in office of a Sole Administrator in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), in flagrant violation of the NDDC Act, and its damaging consequences on our great party, the APC, as we approach the commencement of electioneering campaign for the 2023 general election.

The ill-treatment of the Niger Delta region since 2019 has set the party back in many respects in the region, but we are still hopeful that with your concerted efforts, in concert with stakeholders we can regain our footholds before the next general election, which is very crucial. This is why we are glad that your appointment as the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs offers a chance to correct the ills and win back the trust of our people.

We therefore urge you to take advantage of the confidence reposed in you by authentic stakeholders in the region to reboot and reclaim our party’s connection with the Niger Delta people after three years of the disastrous manipulation of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), with the imposition of interim management committees/sole administrator contraptions which has angered all stakeholders in the region.

The deliberate acts of subterfuge in NDDC are antithetical in advancing the interests of the people of our region, not to talk of the damage the delay in the inauguration of the Commission’s substantive board has done to the Federal Government, President Buhari’s reputation and the All Progressives Congress (APC) among the people, especially the voting population.

May we remind you that several groups including the prominent Niger Delta Rescue Movement (NDRM) have already vowed not to back the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2023 elections following the illegalities in the NDDC and the delay to inaugurate a substantive board of the NDDC. The spokesman of NRDM, Jonathan Okwa, stated that following the prolonged delay of President Buhari to give the Niger Delta people what is rightfully theirs, in accordance with the law, the NDDC Act, the group would ensure the mobilisation of the people of Niger Delta region to vote against the APC in the 2023 presidential and general elections if the board is not inaugurated. The ongoing illegality of administering the region’s foremost agency with a sole administrator in violation of the NDDC Act has indeed imperilled our party in the Niger Delta States.

The most salient issue that the authentic stakeholders of the Niger Delta has consistently demanded, and which even President Buahri had promised and made commitments on is to end the illegal Interim Management / sole administratorship at the NDDC and inaugurate the Board of the Commission in compliance with the law, and which promise he made to the nation on June 24, 2021 when he received the leadership of Ijaw National Congress (INC) in Aso Rock, Abuja. President Buhari also reiterated his promise to inaugurate the Commission’s Board at the recently concluded retreat of your Ministry and NDDC, which ended on July 29, 2022.

Recall that President Buhari made a commitment to 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.” The Forensic audit report has been submitted to President Muhammadu Buhari eleven months ago, since September 2, 2021 but the Board is yet to be inaugurated.

The Federal Government’s delay to inaugurate the Commission’s substantive board is of grave concern to Niger Deltans as it indicates a continued disregard by this government for the region as well as unwillingness to submit to transparency in administering NDDC.

We are further dismayed that despite further assurances that the submission of the report would see to the inauguration of the board, it has not ended the delays, manipulations and hijacking of the NDDC by vested interests. This foremost federal government agency set up to right the wrongs in the Niger Delta over the years is still being run by a sole administrator appointed in breach of the NDDC Act.

Sadly, for a government that prides itself for adherence to rule of law, this administration conversely continues to administer the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) in flagrant violation of the NDDC Act. As a Commission established in 2000 by an Act of Parliament, the ongoing national embarrassment at NDDC should be of grave concern to you as the Supervising Minister of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), about your reputation and legacy, as a Niger Deltan, when you leave office in 2023. We therefore urge you, the Federal Government, President Buhari, and indeed, the leadership of APC, to put an end to the illegality of further administering NDDC with a Sole Administrator that is not known to the law setting-up the Commission.

Whereas the North East Development Commission (NEDC) has been allowed to function with its duly constituted Board in place in line with its NEDC Act thereby ensuring proper corporate governance, accountability, checks and balances and fair representation of its constituent states, the NDDC on the other hand has been run arbitrarily in the last three years by Interim committees/sole administrator in breach of the NDDC Act.

Niger Deltans are very upset with the disdainful manner the region has been treated. There is increasing anger against the APC in the Niger Delta region as a result of the very poor, biased, illegal and provocative actions of the Federal Government in the handling of matters concerning the NDDC and the Niger Delta region. The federal government and the APC should be aware of the danger in continuing with this interim contraption as we approach the 2023 elections.

Against the relentless legitimate demands of stakeholders, it is in our best interest to keep a good legacy by abiding by the law establishing NDDC, especially as we are in a contest to elect a new President for the country in an election that is projected to be hotly contested. This government’s breach of the laws guiding the establishment of an agency created to develop an impoverished region is not in good taste, especially when it looks like the forensic audit was a smokescreen for some people in the Federal Government to fleece the resources meant for our people.

We implore the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs and the Federal Government to now rise to the occasion to save the Niger Delta region from this sorry state, from those who have deliberately decided to exacerbate the palpable tension in the region. Kindly heed the call of Niger Delta leaders, governors, youths, women, traditional rulers, civil society organisations, and other stakeholders, comply with the law setting up NDDC, and ensure the inauguration of the board of the Commission to ensure accountability, checks and balances, probity and equitable representation of the nine constituent states. This is the minimum the Federal Government, President Buhari, and the APC can do to win back the trust of the Niger Delta people.

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