The attention of Niger Delta Peoples’ Forum (NDPF) has been invited to malicious, mischievous and sponsored attacks and publications circulating in different social media platforms and web portals regarding the appointment of Barr. Effiong Akwa as the sole administrator of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
Given our high standard of engagement on matters relating to Niger Delta, we would have ordinarily ignored all of these paid and rented attackers. However, in the circumstance, we are constrained to do otherwise because silence can sometime be construed as an acceptance of false, baseless and malicious allegations, which will certainly not be golden.
As our over-arching contention, we shall set out by positing that it is no overstatement that right from the era of Oil Mineral Producing Areas Development Commission (OMPADEC), culminating into the present day Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), the management of the intervention agency has been largely plagued with smelly corruption.
It is necessary to lay bare this unassailable point because once again, we have observed with total dismay the needless flak coming from some sections of the Niger Delta against the merited appointment of Barr. Effiong Akwa.
To be specific, the Ijaw-speaking part of the Niger Delta has protested vehemently against the appointment of Barr. Effiong Akwa for no justifiable reason other than the fact that Barr. Effiong Akwa is not an Ijaw man. In historical terms, the bulk of the area or entity known as Niger Delta is not and cannot be for the Ijaws alone much less Niger Delta Development Commission, (NDDC) being created for the Ijaws only.
The needless resistance to Barr. Effiong Akwa’s appointment by the Ijaw-Section of the Niger Delta has grave consequences to our unity as a people. The resistance is also a direct affront to the powers of President Muhammadu Buhari (GCFR) as constitutionally prescribed under Section 171 of the 1999 Constitution (as altered) and Section 23 of the Niger Delta Development Commission, (NDDC) Act with the sole aim of derailing the well intentioned forensic audit of Niger Delta Development Commission, (NDDC) as ordered by President Muhammadu Buhari (GCFR).
For the avoidance of doubt, Barr. Effiong Akwa is an Oron man and hails from the oil bearing area of Akwa Ibom State. He is reputationally and eminently qualified for the position just like any other Niger Deltan.
It is to be noted that at various times, the Niger Delta Development Commission, (NDDC) had been run via sole administratorship. A change in nomenclature does not derogate from that fact. Ibim Semitari is a classical case in point.
Granted that there maybe need to have a substantive board in place, we should also not easily lose-guard of the fact that it was the mismanagement associated with previous boards that has triggered the need to empanel forensic audit of the Niger Delta Development Commission, (NDDC).
If the previous boards had worked optimally, we would not have been where we are today.
It is premised against the backdrop of the mismanagement associated with previous boards that warranted the ongoing forensic audit of the Commission by President Muhammadu Buhari (GCFR). The present situation and or circumstance is therefore a child of necessity. It is the doctrine of necessity that has thrown up the ongoing forensic audit.
By the time the forensic audit is completed and the report is submitted, the seed of corruption that has been sown over the years will no longer thrive.
Of a truth, in times of recession like this, prudence demands that the Commission should be run through sole administratorship in order to eliminate unwarranted cost and waste associated with board management.
Permit me to reiterate and stress the unassailable fact that President Muhammadu Buhari (GCFR) is an avowed anti-corruption icon of no mean breed and measurable pedigree who is determined to carry out the forensic audit to clinical completion.
There is no amount of arm-twisting and blackmail by hired and rented militants that have bare their fangs via overt and covert threats against the person of the Distinguished Senator Godswill Akpabio (CON), Honourable Minister of the Niger Delta Affairs and the newly appointed Sole Administrator of the Niger Delta Development Commission, (NDDC) Barrister Effiong Akwa that will browbeat them from the task at hand.
It is not new anymore that some elements, albeit renegades, in and from the Niger Delta are strangers to democracy and development and have sworn to perpetuate themselves in ignominious “pull him down” missions. These are the tribal non-entities with entitlement mentality masquerading as Niger Delta Crusaders. To them, Barrister Effiong Akwa is not a Niger Deltan because he is not their kith and kin. To them, the sole administrator is not a Niger Deltan because their pockets were not lined with filthy lucre before his appointment as the sole administrator.
That the sole administrator possesses intimidating sterling qualities to effectively manage the resources accruing to Niger Delta Development Commission, (NDDC) is an anathema to these elements. They would rather have a lackey from their stock whose only qualification is the ability to continue the brigandage of looting and sharing the wealth of Niger Delta Development Commission, (NDDC) instead of applying the resources to lift the people and communities of Niger Delta out of economic backwardness and project marginalization.
We do not know the Sole Administrator personally, but his record made public speaks for him. We demand that he be given a chance to prove his mettle just like every other past heads of the Commission. Who knows that he may end up being the anticipated Messiah for the Niger Delta Development Commission, (NDDC) whose history of financial sleaze has put the devil to shame.
Rather than vilifying the Sole Administrator, we encourage true Niger Delta activists to step up campaigns for accountability and transparency, and the prosecution of fraudulent elements in the Commission. We also demand that there must be punishment for any previous heads of the Niger Delta Development Commission, (NDDC) found culpable in financial atrocities at the Commission, while we hope that this must be sustained going forward.
For the avoidance of obfuscation, let it be known that Niger Delta Development Commission, (NDDC) is not the exclusive preserve of an anointed ethnic nationality or privileged class of kleptocrats in the region. Niger Delta Development Commission, (NDDC) is for all Niger Deltans from any of the ethnic nationalities.
It betrays the ignorance of the purveyors of hatred or blackmail against Distinguished Senator Godswill Akpabio (CON) or the Sole Administrator, that they do not understand the ephemeral dynamics of leadership and responsibility. There is a time to serve and there is a time to render accounts.
For those who cavort in smearing the image, vision and intent of Distinguished Senator Godswill Akpabio (CON), Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, let it be known to them that the Honourable Minister, though not infallible as a human being, is imbued with unapologetic passion for development for which records abound.
Even with the mudslinging, lies and vaunted belling aching, the Honourable Minister has defied the stagnating status quo by ensuring the completion of the Niger Delta Development Commission, (NDDC) permanent headquarters, a feat that has shamed his traducers. He has successfully captained a forensic investigation that has already yielded massive results whereby those who looted Niger Delta Development Commission, (NDDC) money and abandoned projects with impunity, voluntarily went squirreling back to the various sites to recommence and complete those abandoned projects.
With the forensic investigation, many hitherto corrupt contractors and staff of Niger Delta Development Commission, (NDDC) are now constant customers of anti corruption agencies including the EFCC, ICPC and the Nigerian Police to answer questions regarding their performances. These things were never witnessed in the Niger Delta Development Commission, (NDDC) of old.
We know that the good people of Niger Delta are desperate for peace and development under an effective Niger Delta Development Commission, (NDDC) management. We also know that the wicked ones (both the so called elders and few misdirected youths) would only be desperate to line their pockets with our looted patrimony and then trudge around looking for titles like juvenile emperors.
By this publication therefore, we are calling on these desperate traducers of the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs and the Sole Administrator of Niger Delta Development Commission, (NDDC) to allow the Niger Delta region for once to enjoy the real dividend of Niger Delta Development Commission, (NDDC) and democracy.
We also call on them to support the good work of the Honourable Minister of Niger Delta Affairs and eschew mischief and evil. The youths should not make themselves ready tools of destabilization sponsored by questionable elements who have continued to pillage the wealth of the region for their selfish benefits.
We are watching keenly and would go to the extent of lifting the masquerade to reveal those who make themselves enemies of the region because of lack of continued patronage.
Every ethnic nationality in the Niger Delta region is entitled to be given an opportunity to serve for the overall synergized development of the Niger Delta.
We expect that wise counsel will prevail in the circumstance of this matter.
This communique was signed by the following eminent members on behalf of the Forum:
Prof. Ephraim Steven, National President, Barr. Ubuo Eyo, Deputy National President, Engr. Ida Rufus, Secretary General, Itoro Akpabio, Coordinator Kingsley Ofunne, Director of Admin., Benjamin Efiye, International Coordinator, Chief Emmanuel Okusun, Patron.
NIGER DELTA PEOPLES’ FORUM (NDPF)
No. 53 Victoria Street, Port Harcourt, River State.
Phone Numbers: +234-7060618368, +234-8032908515