By Deji Elumoye
The current move by the National Assembly to probe the alleged N40 billion fraud by the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has elicited reaction from a coalition of Niger Delta leaders.
The leaders have therefore called on the two chambers of the National Assembly not to by any means frustrate the current attempt by President Muhammadu Buhari to reposition the NDDC through the on-going forensic auditing of the Commission.
The leaders under the aegis of Niger Delta Forum for Equity and Justice, wondered if the National Assembly could justify its claims about an imaginary siphoned N40 billion.
National coordinator of the Forum, Kenneth Adagogo, who spoke on behalf of the Forum, stated inter alia: “Early this year, NNPC retired many General Managers and redeployed others. Why didn’t the Senate probe it? Why the sudden interest to probe NDDC? Is this how to support your own party, the APC and your President in bringing the dividends of democracy to the people of the Niger Delta?
“The allegations against the Interim Management Committee which forms the basis of probe by the National Assembly is ridiculous. These are the same issues that have been subject of smear campaign against the Commission in the past few weeks. Can a Committee withdraw and misappropriate N40 billion without the knowledge of President Buhari, anti-corruption agency and other relevant regulatory agencies? Why has the National Assembly decided to leave important issues and begin to chase shadows? It’s very curious.
“It is always convenient to drag the name of the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio in the mud. Curiously, those behind this, pretend to be his friends in the open. The leadership of the National Assembly has an unfettered access to Senator Akpabio and can always reach out to him to confirm certain things rather than resorting to this unnecessary blackmail.
“We urge the National Assembly, not to use the revered parliament as a launchpad for some lightweight politicians in the Niger Delta who are nursing personal political ambitions in 2023. The Assembly must not give an impression that the latest move to probe the NDDC is meant to arm twist the agency to frustrate the ongoing forensic audit. They must be seen to be on the same page with President Muhammadu Buhari in cleansing the agency.
“The purpose of setting up the interventionist agency was not to provide free money to fund people’s political ambitions. It’s a new dawn in NDDC and the Senate must support the Interim Management Committee to succeed.
“But if the National Assembly decides to go ahead and embarrass the administration of President Buhari, Nigerians will bear witness to the possible collapse of the smooth relationship that has been existing between the National Assembly and the Presidency.”