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Reconstitution of NDDC Board: Setting The Record Straight

By Victor Ndah About three years ago, President Muhammadu Buhari had nominated members of the Board of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), forwarded same to…

By Victor Ndah

About three years ago, President Muhammadu Buhari had nominated members of the Board of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), forwarded same to the Senate for screening and confirmation as the commission’s Act prescribes. However, these members are yet to be sworn into office to begin work, a situation that has caused a lot of controversy among interested parties.

A few months ago, the President renewed his promise to inaugurate the Commission’s Board, but stakeholders in the Niger Delta region are still waiting for this promise to be fulfilled.

As a result of this delay, a group known as Niger Delta Alliance for Economic Survival (NDAES) recently alleged that some staff and contractors with the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) had perfected plans with some key officers of the National Assembly to frustrate the decision of the President Muhammadu Buhari to reconstitute the Board of the Commission.

The group claimed they had been informed that some management staff and big contractors of the NDDC had perfected plans to get the senate to sit on the list of the new board members to perpetrate the continuous balkanisation of the commission’s monthly allocation.

But in a bid to put the record straight, the NDDC, in a statement, described the allegation as false and the group as a confused bunch of people driven by mischief. Giving reasons for the delay in the reconstitution of the board, the commission hinted that the President had directed the Attorney-General of the Federation to look into the recommendations of the forensic audit of the commission and prepare a White Paper to guide the government on how best to reposition the NDDC before a new board is inaugurated.

While urging stakeholders to disregard allegations which it described as “the antics of those peddling falsehood,” the commission said that the minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Mr. Umana Okon Umana, had assured that the board would be reconstituted once the Senate resumes sitting.

“The spurious allegation, published by an online news medium, claiming that the NDDC Acting Managing Director entered into “an agreement with some members of the Senate to continue to share the Commission’s funds,” is false.

“This attempt to feast on an imagined scandal fits into the mold of previous efforts by certain individuals and groups to return the NDDC to the inglorious past of corruption and mismanagement.

“We want to state unequivocally that the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Obong Umana Okon Umana, as the NDDC supervising Minister, has laid out a roadmap for regeneration of the Commission.

“Only recently, the Minister told NDDC management and staff when he visited the Commission, that pending issues such as the absence of a board have been addressed. He stated: “Mr. President has transmitted the names of members of the board to the Senate and I do know that on resumption the Senate would act on it,” the statement read in part.

Stating that the group is a conglomeration of persons who are working against the interest of the Niger Delta region, the commission agreed that the baseless allegation may not be unconnected to the politics of 2023.

It said “as the politics and campaigns for 2023 elections heat up, it is possible that these campaigns of calumny, blackmail and subterfuge will become even more urgent and strident.”

Incidentally, all insinuations against the MNDA and NDDC have been laid to rest with the recent announcement of a substantive board. President Muhammadu Buhari has urged the Senate to confirm the nomination of his Special Adviser on Social Media, Lauretta Onochie, for appointment as the substantive Chairman of the Board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

The NDDC board nominees, according to the letter, are Laureta Ifeanyi Onochie (Delta, South-South) as Chairman; Dimgba Erugba State representative (Abia, South-East); Dr Emem Wilcox (Akwa Ibom, State Representative, South-South); Dr Pius Odudu (Edo, South-South); Hon. Gbenga Odegba (Ondo, South-West) and Engr. Anthony Ekene (Imo, South-East).

Also on the board list are Mr. Onyekachi Dimgba (Rivers, South-South); Alhaji Mohammed Kabiru Abubakar (Zonal Representative, Nasarawa); Professor Tallen Mamma, SAN (North-East Representative, Adamawa); Sodique Sani (North-West, Zonal Representative); General Charles Ehigie Airhiavbere (Rtd) (Executive Director of Finance) and Charles Ogunmola (Executive Director Project, South-West).

President Muhammadu Buhari has done his part, the ball is now in the court of the Senate to do the needful. Whatever happens next, history will absolve the president of any blame.