The Niger Delta Elders Forum (NDEF) once again aligned itself with what it described as the “legitimate demands of genuine Niger Delta stakeholders” to “urge President Muhammadu Buhari to comply with the law establishing the NDDC and inaugurate the substantive council to run the Commission for the benefit of the people of the nine Niger Delta states.
In a statement by its National President, Chief Tonye Ogboggula, he said that “the most important issue that genuine stakeholders in the Niger Delta have consistently demanded, and to which the President has also committed himself, is to put end to illegal interim management / single administration”. at the NDDC and inaugurate the Board of the Commission upon receipt of the forensic audit, in accordance with the law. »
According to the group, President Buhari made the pledge “to the nation on June 24, 2021 when he received the leadership of the National Ijaw Congress (INC) at Aso Rock, Abuja,” and reaffirmed the pledge in his “ recent announcement on July 28, 2022, that the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) Board of Directors will soon be inaugurated”, thus reaffirming its “commitment to ending the ongoing illegal single administration at the NDDC and to inaugurate the Board of Directors of the Commission in accordance with the law.”
According to NDEF, President Buhari reaffirmed his commitment to inaugurate the NDDC Board of Directors on July 28, 2022 while declaring open a retreat for the leadership of the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs and NDDC at the banquet hall of the State House, Presidential Villa, Aso Rock, Abuja.
The group also recalled that President Buhari previously made a pledge to the nation on June 24, 2021 when he received leadership from the National Ijaw Congress (INC) at Aso Rock, Abuja. The President said: ”Based on the mismanagement that had previously plagued the NDDC, a forensic audit has been put in place 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, the NDDC Board of Directors will be inaugurated. Chief Ogboggula regretted that “the forensic audit report was submitted to President Muhammadu Buhari eleven months ago on September 2, 2021. Unfortunately, the NDDC, which is the main regional development agency in the Delta Niger and which was created to right wrongs in the Niger Delta is still managed by a single administrator appointed in violation of the NDDC law.
NDEF noted that President Muhamnadu Buhari forwarded to the Senate for confirmation the appointment of a Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) Board of Directors through a letter dated October 18, 2019.
According to the group, “specifically, President Buhari in the letter sought Senate confirmation for Dr. Pius Odubu (Edo) as Chairman of the NDDC Board, Chief Bernard Okumagba (Delta) as Managing Director, Engr Otobong Ndem (Akwa Ibom) as Director Director, Projects, and Maxwell Oko (Bayelsa) as Executive Director, Finance and Administration Others listed in the President’s letter to the Senate included Prophet Jones Erue, representing Delta State, Chief Victor Ekhalor (Edo), Nwogu N Nwogu (Abia), Theodore A Allison (Bayelsa), Victor Antai (Akwa Ibom), Maurice Effiwatt (Cross River), Olugbenga Oedema (Ondo) , Hon Uchegbu Chidiebere Kyrian representing Imo State The others are Aisha Murtala Mohammed from Kano State representing the North West, Shuaib Ardo Zubairu from Adamawa representing the North East and Ambassador Abdullahi M Bage from Nasarawa representing North Central, respectiv ment to the council.
NDEF said the President’s letter personally signed by him reads: “In accordance with the provision of Section 2(2)(a) of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) Act 2000 (establishment), I am writing to convey, for confirmation by the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the candidates listed below for appointment to the NDDC Board of Trustees, to serve in the positions listed opposite their names.President Buhari, in the letter, expressed the hope that “the Senate will consider and confirm the candidates in the usual and expeditious manner”.
Chief Ogbobula recounted that the “written request, which was read on the floor of the Senate on Tuesday, October 22, 2019, by its President, Ahmad Lawan, was swiftly considered by the Upper Legislative Chamber, which led its Standing Committee on the NDDC, conduct a screening exercise on all nominees and report back within a week.The Senate Standing Committee conducted the screening exercise on 15 of the 16 nominees on Thursday, October 31, 2019, after which the Senate in plenary sitting confirmed their appointments on November 5, 2019.”
The group said that however, after the nominees were selected and confirmed by the Nigerian Senate on November 5, 2019, “President Buhari requested that the inauguration of the board be put on hold pending the completion of the forensic audit, for which an interim management committee has been appointed for the NDDC.The forensic audit report was submitted to President Muhammadu Buhari eleven months ago on September 2, 2021. Unfortunately, the NDDC , which is the main regional development agency in the Niger Delta and which was created to right wrongs in the Niger Delta, is still to be headed by a single director appointed in violation of the NDDC law.
The group reaffirmed that “President Muhammadu Buhari had already appointed a Board of Directors for the NDDC in October 2019 whose members were vetted by all relevant federal government agencies, after which they were selected and confirmed by the Senate. Nigerian on November 5, 2019. They are waiting to be inaugurated. The President reaffirmed his intention to inaugurate the Council at the end of the forensic audit, a commitment he reiterated on Thursday July 28, 2022 while declaring open a retreat for the management of the Ministry of Delta Affairs of Niger and the NDDC during the Banquet at the State House Hall, Presidential Villa, Aso Rock, Abuja.
Chief Ogbobula therefore urged President Buhari to “inaugurate the board and leadership of the Commission, in accordance with the law to ensure that the nine constituent states of the region will have fair and equitable representation in the Commission in accordance to the NDDC Act 2000 which brought the Interventionist Agency into existence and made it mandatory for the President to appoint a Board of Directors and an Executive for the Commission, subject to confirmation by the Senate.
The NDEF said it aligns itself with other “genuine stakeholders in reaffirming that maintaining a single administrator or an interim administration in the management of the Commission is not just a violation of the law NDDC of 2000, but an affront to the long deprived people of the region who had to endure three years of the main agency being run arbitrarily in violation of the law – the NDDC law and in total disregard for their needs and the development of the region.
The group also said that “we also wish to remind President Buhari, the federal government and indeed the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) that the continued administration of the NDDC by a sole administrator is illegal. because the NDDC Act does not contain any provision to this effect illegality because the NDDC Act only provides that the board and management of the NDDC shall at all times follow the provisions of the law which states that the board and management shall be appointed by the President, subject to confirmation by the Senate Indeed, no one is supposed to start administering the NDDC and utilizing the huge funds accruing to it on a monthly basis without going through this legal requirement as stipulated in the NDDC Act.
Chief Ogboggula also reminded President Buhari and the Federal Government that “considering that the North East Development Commission (NEDC) has been authorized to operate with its duly inaugurated Council (since May 2019) in accordance with the NEDC Act, ensuring thus good corporate governance, accountability, checks and balances and fair representation of its constituent states, the NDDC, on the other hand, has been arbitrarily run over the past three years by interim administrations/single trustee, in violation flagrant of the law establishing the Commission.
The group reiterated that “As stakeholders in the Niger Delta region, we align ourselves with other credible voices in the region to stress that the Federal Government, President Buhari, and indeed the ruling party , All Progressives Congress (APC), should be concerned about the disregard of the people of the Niger Delta over the way the NDDC has been run, especially administering the Commission with illegal interim managements/one-manager gear during five years in the seven years in power of this administration, and therefore must end the current illegality within the NDDC if this government is to be remembered for good in the Niger Delta.
According to the NDEF, “all stakeholders now await the serious inauguration of the NDDC Board of Directors appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate since November 2019 in accordance with the NDDC Act to ensure equitable representation of the nine constituent states. , accountability in the use of NDDC funds, checks and balances and due process in the administration of the Commission.”