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NDDC Audit: Inaugurate Governing Board, Prosecute Indicted Persons, N’Delta Group Tells Buhari

Niger Delta Development Commission

An advocacy group, Niger Delta Progressive Network (NDPN) has called on President Buhari to now inaugurate the governing Board of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), prosecute persons indicted in the recently submitted report of the forensic audit of the Commission to

mark the end of the delays, manipulations and hijacking of the NDDC by vested interests.

In a statement by its National Chairman, Kaniye Amakiri, and Secretary, Asuquo Inyang, the group stated that

we recall that President Buhari and other officials of the administration had stated that the audit report will help in the recovery of looted funds from corrupt past NDDC officers, indicted government officials and fraudulent contractors, while the Governing Board will be inaugurated to manage the NDDC in accordance with the law setting up the Commission – the NDDC Act.

According to NDPN, the President, specifically on June 24, while receiving the Ijaw National Congress at the State House in Abuja, had promised that the NDDC Board would be inaugurated as soon as the forensic audit report was submitted.

The group quoted the president as having said that

based on the mismanagement that had previously bedeviled the NDDC, a forensic audit was set up and the result was 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 group noted with dismay that in the last two years, Niger Delta Affairs Minister Chief Godswill Akpabio, who has supervised the NDDC and the forensic audit,

has turned the NDDC into his personal estate where he has brought in his friends and acolytes as sole administrators under the guise of conducting an audit, while at the same time utilising the huge funds which have accrued to the Commission in the last two years with no meaningful infrastructural projects in the region to show for it.

According to Kaniye Amakiri Asuquo Inyang, on behalf of NDPN,

though the details of the forensic audit report have not been officially released by the federal government, it is clear that under Akpabio’s watch the so-called forensic auditors went beyond their brief to call for actions that can only be designed to benefit the minister but in the end will be detrimental to the development, harmony and peace of the people of the nine NDDC states.

The group cited one such recommendation to be that the membership of the Governing Board of the NDDC be reduced from the current number, and the other recommendation being that the Board be on part-time basis. According to NDPN, this is needless because that is the position of the current NDDC Act as can be clearly seen in Section 2 (3) of the Act.

Said the group:

We want to draw the attention of the President and the federal government to the danger in tinkering with the Board membership as currently provided for. Under the current NDDC Act, each of the nine oil producing states has a representative on the board and are all on part time basis as clearly indicated in Section 2(3) of the NDDC Act. In addition, there is one representative for all oil producing companies in the country and one person each from each non-oil producing geopolitical zone. All the members of the Board listed above are on part time basis as clearly stated in the Section 2(3) of the NDDC Act. The only full time members of the Board as clearly stipulated in the NDDC Act are three – the Managing Director and two Executive Directors – who are responsible for the day-to-day administration of the Commission.

Continuing the group posited that

It is apposite to remind us that the North East Development Commission (NEDC) Act is patterned after the NDDC Act, with board membership drawn from each state of the North East Region as well as one member each from each of the other geopolitical regions in Nigeria together with other stakeholder representations. Similarly, all Board members aside from the Managing Director and the 3 Executive Directors are on part time basis in line with the North East Development Commission Act which was patterned after the NDDC Act.

The group is sad that

while the North East Development Commission has been allowed to function with its duly constituted Board in place ensuring proper Corporate Governance, accountability, checks and balances and fair representation of its Constituent states, the NDDC has been run arbitrarily in the last 2 years by Interim committees/sole administrator in breach of the NDDC Act even after the President Buhari had appointed a Board for the NDDC which was duly confirmed by the Nigerian Senate on November 5, 2019.

NDPN also warned that

the unsolicited recommendation to reduce the size of the NDDC Board is a red herring by Akpabio to attempt to initiate a long process of a needless amendment of the NDDC Act to give him more time to continue his hijacking of the Commission and its funds using illegal sole administrator/interim committees in breach of the NDDC Act.

The group therefore calls on the federal government to release to the Nigerian public, the forensic audit report which Akpabio has submitted and commence the prosecution of any persons indicted

but should now also comply with the NDDC Act and fulfill his promise by inaugurating the Governing Board of the Commission to ensure accountability, checks and balances, probity and equitable representation of the nine constituent states of the Niger Delta Region.

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