Group Urges Niger Delta Minister to Inaugurate Board without Delay

Emmanuel Ugwu-Nwogo

Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Obong Umana Okon Umana, has been urged to seize the momentum of the assurances given by President Muhammadu Buhari to urgently inaugurate the board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

The call was made  by a group under the aegis of Niger Delta United Congress (NDUC) in a statement signed by its President, Ebizomor Brisibe, and Secretary, Edem Archibong.

Buhari, while delivering a keynote address during the opening ceremony of top management retreat organised by the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, had last Thursday given his presidential assurance that the NDDC board was underway.

Banking on this assurance, the group, NDUC, at the weekend said the minister had no reason whatsoever to allow the present “illegality” of sole administratorship and interim management to linger at the NDDC.

The group reasoned that President Buhari has given the green light, hence, it called on the Niger Delta Affairs Minister to “urgently implement the inauguration of the board and management of the commission” without further delay.

According to NDUC, inaugurating a board for NDDC would ensure that the nine constituent states of the Niger Delta region “will have fair and equitable representation in the commission.

“The preservation of a sole administrator or an interim administration in the management of the commission is not only a breach of the NDDC Act 2000, but a demonstration of impunity and affront on the long-deprived people of the region.”

It noted that for the past three years, the people of Niger Delta have been made to endure the foremost agency being arbitrarily run in breach of the law-the NDDC Act-and in utter disregard of their need and the region’s development.

NDUC noted with delight that Buhari has “restated his commitment to end the ongoing illegal sole administratorship at the NDDC and inaugurate the board of the commission in compliance with the law.”

The group recalled that the president had earlier made a commitment to the country on June 24, 2021, when he received the leadership of Ijaw National Congress (INC) at Aso Rock, Abuja.

The group said Buhari gave the assurance that “as soon as the forensic audit report is submitted and accepted, the NDDC board will be inaugurated” in order to put an end to the “mismanagement that had previously bedeviled the NDDC,” which necessitated a forensic audit.

The forensic audit report was submitted to Buhari 10 months ago, precisely on September 2, 2021, but NDUC pointed out that since then, the contraption of sole administratorship has been allowed to persist.

It, therefore, regretted that the NDDC “which is the foremost Niger Delta regional development agency and which was set up to right the wrongs in the Niger Delta, is still being run by a sole administrator appointed in breach of the NDDC Act.”

The group leaders insisted that the continued administration of the NDDC by a sole administrator “is illegal because the NDDC Act has no provision for this illegality as the NDDC Act only provides that the board and management of the NDDC at any point in time should follow the provisions of the law.”

“In effect, nobody is supposed to administer the NDDC and utilise the huge funds accruing to it on a monthly basis without passing through this legal requirement as stipulated in the NDDC Act.”

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