Following President Buhari’s reaffirmation of his commitment to end the ongoing illegal single administration at the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and inaugurate a substantive council of the Commission in accordance with law, a group, the Niger Delta Integrity Group (NDIG) urged the President to proceed with the investiture of the members whose names he had transmitted to the Senate for confirmation of appointment by letter dated October 18, 2019 and whose Senate met in plenary confirmed their appointments on 5 November 2019.
In a statement signed by its Chairman, Akpoebide Okotiene and its Secretary, Edet Ekpenyong, the group reminded President Buhari that “maintaining a single administrator or an interim administration in the management of the Commission is not only a violation of the NDDC Act 2000 but a show of impunity and affront to the long deprived residents of the region who had to endure three years of the largest agency arbitrarily run in violation of the law – the NDDC Act, and at the total disregard for their needs and the development of the region.”
According to the group, President Muhammadu Buhari had again announced that the board of directors of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) would soon be inaugurated.
He quoted The Cable Online newspaper, that the President said this on Thursday, July 28, 2022 while declaring open a retreat for the leadership of the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs and the NDDC in the banquet hall of the house of State, Presidential Villa, Aso Rock, Abuja.
NDIG applauded President Buhari for reaffirming his commitment to “end the ongoing illegal single administration at NDDC and inaugurate the Commission’s Board of Trustees in accordance with law. He had previously pledged 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 and accepted, the NDDC Board of Directors will be inaugurated. 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 set up to righting wrongs in the Niger Delta, is still to be led by a sole administrator appointed in violation of the NDDC law.
Okotiene and Ekpenyong recalled that President Muhamnadu Buhari had “transmitted to the Senate for confirmation the appointment of a board of directors of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) via a letter dated October 18, 2019”.
According to them, “Specifically, President Buhari in the letter sought Senate confirmation for Dr. Pius Odubu (Edo) as Chairman of the NDDC Board, Bernard O. Okumagba (Delta) as Director General, Engr Otobong Ndem (Akwa Ibom) as 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 the Central North respectively on the council.
The group also recounted that 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 Act 2000 ( NDDC) (establishment), I am writing to transmit, for confirmation by the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the following candidates for appointment to the NDDC Board of Trustees, to serve in the positions listed opposite their names.
President Buhari, in the letter, expressed hope that “the Senate will consider and confirm the candidates in the usual expeditious manner.”
NDIG said the written request, which was read on the floor of the Senate on Tuesday, October 22, 2019, by its Chairman, Ahmad Lawan, “was expeditiously considered by the Upper Legislative Chamber, which directed its Standing Committee on NDDC, to carry out a selection exercise on all candidates and report within the week.
The Senate Standing Committee conducted the screening exercise for 15 of the 16 nominees on Thursday, October 31, 2019, after which the Senate Plenary confirmed their nominations on November 5, 2019.
According to the group, 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 suspended pending the completion of the audit medico-legal, 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 established to repair wrongs in the Niger Delta, is still to be headed by a sole administrator appointed in violation of the NDDC law.
NDIG reaffirmed that “President Muhammadu Buhari has already appointed a Board of Directors for the NDDC in October 2019 whose members have been vetted by all relevant agencies of the Federal Government after which they were selected and confirmed by the Nigerian Senate on November 5, 2019.
They are only now waiting to be inaugurated. The President reaffirmed his intention to inaugurate the Council at the end of the forensic audit, a commitment he reaffirmed 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.
Okotiene and Ekpenyong 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 law on the National Assembly”. Assembly 2000 which gave birth to the Interventionist Agency and required the President to appoint a board and leadership for the Commission, subject to confirmation by the Senate.
The group also 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 only a violation of the NDDC Act of 2000, but an affront to the long deprived people of the region who have had to endure three years of the main agency being run arbitrarily in violation of the law – the NDDC Act and in complete disregard for their needs and the development of the community. region.
The NDIG also reminded 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 makes no provision for this illegality, as 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 that accrue to it on a monthly basis without going through this legal requirement as stipulated in the NDDC Act.”
The group 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, thereby ensuring 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/single trustee administrations, in flagrant violation of the law establishing the Commission.
NDIG reaffirmed 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 for the way the NDDC has been run, specifically administering the Commission with illegal interim managements/single director gear for five years over the seven years of this administration’s tenure, and must therefore end the current illegality within the NDDC if this government is to be remembered for good in the Niger Delta.
The Niger Delta Integrity Group therefore stated that “all stakeholders are now awaiting 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 law to ensure 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.”