The Ijaw Consultative Forum (ICF), Ondo State chapter, has aligned with pan-Ijaw group, Ijaw National Congress (INC), and Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) to call on President Muhammadu Buhari to inaugurate the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) board since the commission’s forensic audit has been submitted to him.
In a statement signed by the Chairman of the group, Suffy Uguoji, the group maintained that with the submission of the forensic audit to President Buhari, nothing should further delay the inauguration of the board.
The ICF chairman noted that the delay in inaugurating the substantive board will further encourage the sole administrator to remain in office whereas the law setting up NDDC does not recognise sole administrator.
The statement read: “We strongly demand that President Mohammadu Buhari should, as a matter of importance and urgency, inaugurate the NDDC Board since the forensic audit report had been submitted to him by the minister of Niger Delta affairs Senator Godwill Akpabio, through the Attorney General and Minister of Justice” over three weeks ago.
The umbrella body of the Ijaw nation worldwide, Ijaw National Congress (INC) recently also cautioned that “any further delay in the inauguration of the NDDC board is a clear betrayal of trust and display of State insensitivity on ljaw nation and Niger Delta region.”
The INC call followed the promise of President Buhari in June 2021, while receiving the Ijaw National Congress in Abuja, that the NDDC Board would be inaugurated as soon as the forensic audit report was submitted and accepted.
The President said: ‘‘Based on the mismanagement that had previously bedeviled the NDDC, a forensic audit was set up and the result is expected by the end of July 2021. I want to assure you that as soon as the forensic audit report is submitted and accepted, the NDDC Board will be inaugurated.”
According to Ijaw Consultative Forum, the Federal Government also reiterated its position to inaugurate the Senate-confirmed board during the inaugural ceremony of the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the NDDC, on October 29, 2019, to oversee the activities of the commission pending the completion of the forensic audit.
The group emphasised, “It is therefore incumbent on the federal government and the Ministry of Niger Delta affairs which is charged with the responsibility of overseeing the activities of NDDC to go the whole hog to ensure that the board is inaugurated urgently to put an end to all the manipulations.”
It further noted that “the orchestrated rigmaroles characterising NDDC since the last board was dissolved in 2018 is taking its tolls on the development of our communities and it is capable of heightening tension and unrest which we are managing to maintain.”
The group affirmed that “once the board is inaugurated, we are sure it will ensure fair representation of the nine constituent states and proper management of the fund of the commission in line with the provisions of the act establishing the agency.”
ICF also noted that “our people have suffered a great deal of neglect due to the absence of their representatives in the management of the commission which is being administered by a sole administrator.”
ICF therefore re-affirmed: “We wish to emphasise here that our major concern now is how the board will be inaugurated without further delay and not the report of the audit knowing that it is the board that will be called upon to ensure that justice is done to the outcome of the report.”
The group has therefore made a clarion call on the leadership of Ijaw National Congress (INC) led by Prof. Benjamin Okaba to concentrate on how the board will be inaugurated rather than calling on the federal government to make the report of the forensic audit public because “in the absence of the board the mechanism for checkmating large scale fraud is no more there and the sole adminsitratorship contraption which is not known to the law that established the commission is at liberty to perpetrate anything unwholesome.”
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