Group Urges Umana to Call off Retreat for Ministry, NDDC Management
The Community Development Committees of Oil and Gas Producing Areas of the Niger Delta (CDCOGPAND) has called on the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Obong Umana Okon Umana to call-off the two-day retreat scheduled for management of the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs (MNDA) and Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
In a statement issued on Tuesday by Joseph Ambakederimo, Chairman, Board of Trustees of CDCOGPAND, it stated that the retreat scheduled to hold on July 28 and 29 inside the State House Banquet Hall, Presidential Villa, Aso Rock, Abuja, “is basically to confer legitimacy to the continued illegal contraption going on in the NDDC.”
According to the group, “the retreat should not be the first program you (Minister of Niger Delta Affairs) should embark on. On issues affecting the NDDC, there are plethora of issues that are crying for attention chiefly amongst which is the implementation of the legal structure of the commission so that there will be equitable representation and responsibility for the component states.”
Ambakederimo stated that “for over three years now the NDDC has been run by a system not known to the law establishing the commission, the NDDC Act of 2000 as amended,” and regretted that “the NDDC Act and the composition that is made up of nine states to benefit from projects, empowerment schemes and human capital development and tackle environmental issues and equitable representation from across board as its core mandate has continuously been run by a one man squad. This is clearly corruption of the highest order under the Buhari regime.”
CDCOGPAND maintained that “it will be very insensitive on the part of the organisers of this event (the retreat) to continue and fail to heed our call for this event to be put off especially when the region cannot boast of any legacy project Undertaken by the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs and the NDDC for eight years.”
According to the group, “this retreat should have been organised for the incoming board to enable them to fully understand the workings of the public sector. The substantive board members nominated by the President and duly screened and cleared by the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria should be the ones to be taken through this retreat and not the people who have been running the NDDC solo.”
Ambakederimo wondered what the MNDA and the NDDC have “achieved in the last seven years that warrants this kind of wastage for a retreat that will be rounded off with a gala dinner. A gala dinner to celebrate illegality in perpetuity with impunity? That is what this is and a misplacement of priority.”
He therefore insisted that “we do not need a retreat at this time, what the people want is the substantive board as enshrined by the NDDC Act so that the people can have some respite.”
CDCOGPAND restated that “in order not to aggravate the palpable anger in the region we make bold to say this retreat must be called off because it is very provocative, insultive, insensitive and wicked. It is a slap on the faces of our collective sensibilities, and this must stop.”
According to them, “what this means is clearly a recipe for violence and it is insensitive actions as this that have brought the nation to where we are today in terms of the insecurity we face.”
Ambakederimo remarked that “as much as we do not encourage violence these are the kinds of behaviour that can trigger violence in the region,” and pointed out that at the moment it is “only the south-south region that is relatively peaceful as at now in the whole of the country, therefore we must not take actions or encourage actions that will make the only peaceful region to erupt in violence. It will not be good.”
The Niger Delta group reminded those advising the President to do so with “an open heart to tow the path of honour to right the wrongs for the benefit of everyone in the region to thrive economically.
CDCOGPAND therefore appealed to the Minister who superintends over the NDDC “to ensure that the substantive board of the NDDC already appointed be inaugurated as quickly as possible. Anything short of this will be seen as business as usual and if it goes this way it will mean that some of us who see you as a thorough breed and hold you in high esteem and that have vouched for your unblemished record and personality would greatly be disappointed.”