The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) was established in 2000 by an Act of Parliament to undertake development projects in the Niger Delta area believed to be the goose that lays the golden egg in Nigeria.
Since the commission was established, it has undertaken various development projects but sadly, many people feel that the colossal amount of funds committed to the Commission does not correlate with the projects it has undertaken. In fact, it is believed that the projects undertaken by the commission pales into insignificance compared to the amount of funds allocated to it.
The operations of the Commission have been hampered by a myriad of problems ranging from leadership tussle, mismanagement of funds and general politicization of its processes, The Trumpet gathered.
There are growing concerns in the Niger Delta area that the Commission has completely derailed from its original mandate. From the attitude of the federal government towards issues affecting the Commission, it is obvious that the Buhari administration does not have a true, complete picture of what is going on there.
The direct consequence of this situation is a general feeling of unease in the whole region. Currently, the Commission is run by a Sole Administrator which is against the Act establishing it.
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Various groups in the Niger Delta region are calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to appoint a Board for the Commission.
It is not clear why the President has refused to comply with the provisions of the Act establishing NDDC. Niger Deltans are insisting that the President should comply with the law setting up the Commission and redeem himself of the toga of dictatorship which the continued refusal to inaugurate the board inevitably confers on him. On the 24th of June 2021 while receiving the leadership of the Ijaw National Congress (INC), the President promised to inaugurate the Board of the Commission as soon as the Forensic Audit was submitted.
The Forensic Audit was submitted to the President on 2nd September 2021, yet, surprisingly, the President has refused to keep his promise. Intriguingly, no statement has been released by the Presidency on the subject.
There are far-reaching effects and consequences of the federal government’s refusal to inaugurate the board. The Niger Delta Rescue Mission (NDRM) has vowed not to support the All Progressives’ Congress in the 2023 general elections. If the NDRM makes good its threat, it will surely have consequences in the performance of the party in the elections across the Niger Delta region.
The President cannot afford to cut his nose to spite his face by adamantly refusing to inaugurate the NDDC board as provided by the enabling Act.
It is illegal for the federal government to continue to administer the Commission with a Sole Administrator Mr Effiong Akwa in flagrant disregard of the Act setting up the Commission.
If the President and the APC government want to live by the tenets of integrity and democratic principles, then they must obey the laws of the land and immediately inaugurate the NDDC board. Nigeria is not under a military rule noted for acting by fiat without regard to established rules in the land.
It is only one year to the end of the Buhari administration and he must leave a positive legacy all around the country in order to be judged aright by implacable posterity.
It is regrettable that under the combined two years of 2019 and 2020, N799,000,000,000 (Seven Hundred and Ninety-nine Billion naira) was approved by the National Assembly for the Commission.
Yet, under the Sole Administrator contraption, over 600,000,000,000 (Six Hundred Billion naira) payments have been made for emergency contracts without due process. Is this a deliberate act to allow individuals to siphon funds away for the forthcoming elections?
The 2020 budget was passed in December and N400,000,000,000 (Four Hundred Billion naira) was voted for the Commission, but it spent over N190,000,000,000 (One Hundred and Ninety Billion) before the budget was passed thereby violating the procurement Act.
Of these monies spent, no remarkable project or infrastructure has been undertaken in the Niger Delta region. It is therefore obvious that the NDDC under a Sole administrator has been a conduit pipe for wasting huge amount of funds. Once again, the federal government should, as a matter of urgency, inaugurate the NDDC Board to demonstrate responsibility, fairness, and transparency.