A civil society organisation, Niger Delta Peoples Forum, has accused the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, of embarking on another round of diversionary tactics that is not in tandem with the wishes of Niger Deltans regarding the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
The group said Akpabio recently made a comment that violates the law setting up the NDDC, in an attempt to change the narrative., while saying that the greatest thing the minister should do in 2022 is to ensure the inauguration of the commission’s governing board.
In a statement signed by Chief Boma Ebiakpo, National Chairman, the group said Akpabio’s position that 2022 would be a “year of positive beginning for Niger Delta region,” was provocative and diversionary.
According to the group, it is rather unfortunate and disheartening that Akpabio, who has been Minister of Niger Delta Region and supervising Minister of NDDC since July 2019 is now praying that the “year 2022 will usher in a positive beginning for the Niger Delta region” when there are legion of abandoned projects in the region under his watch as supervising Minister.
NDPF queried what Akpabio has been doing for “two and a half years in the saddle, with National Assembly approved budgets of N799 Billion for 2019 and 2020, for NDDC.”
It reminded the minister that “the point has been made by Niger Delta stakeholders, and needs to be restated, that President Buhari needs to redeem himself now that the forensic audit report has been submitted to him since September 2, 2021. The President should do well to heed the call of Niger Delta leaders, governors, youths, women, traditional rulers, civil society organisations, and other stakeholders, comply with the law setting up NDDC, and also fulfill his own promise of June 24, 2021, and inaugurate the board to manage the Commission for the benefit of the people of the nine Niger Delta states.”
NDPF urged Niger Deltans to condemn Akpabio’s attempt to introduce “a new narrative that is against the law setting up NDDC.”
The group said that the legitimate demands of stakeholders across the Niger Delta is for President Muhammadu Buhari “to keep his promise and inaugurate a substantive board for NDDC following the submission of the forensic report, and in line with the law establishing the agency.”
It noted that the Niger Delta was in dire need of development which the absence of the board has so far stalled.
It drew attention to the position of Delta State Governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, who is also Chairman of the South South Governors Forum, that “South-South Governors have spoken about how we feel and it is very unfortunate that where we are at the moment, it ought not to be so. We have not had a proper board for over two years now and that is not right. Whatever situation the NDDC is operating with now is unknown to the law of this country.”
NDPF accused Akpabio of recommending all the negative actions by the Buhari administration in the management of the NDDC in the last two years, including the administration of the NDDC by Interim management committee/sole administrator which is illegal.”
It said the NDDC Act has no provision for the ongoing illegality in the Commission’s administration as “NDDC Act only provides that the board and Management of the NDDC at any point in time should follow the provisions of the law which states that the Board and management are to be appointed by the President, subject to confirmation by the Senate.”
On the threshold of 2022, the group said “Akpabio should turn a new leaf, desist from unnecessary red-herring, undo the damage he has caused to the region since 2019, hearken to the urgent call and legitimate demands of Niger Delta stakeholders, and get President Muhammadu Buhari to comply with the NDDC Act and inaugurate the NDDC Board without further delay to ensure accountability, checks and balances, probity and equitable representation of the nine constituent states of the Niger Delta region in line with the NDDC Act.”
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