- Says Vested Interest Misled Buhari To Set Up IMC
A coalition group, the Niger Delta Accountability and Development Coalition, NDADC has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to scrap the Interim Management Committee, IMC of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC while calling for the inauguration of the Governing Board of the Commission as prescribed by the NDDC Act.
The coalition group in a statement issued by its National Coordinator, Comrade Johnson Epia said the composition of the IMC is in contravention of the NDDC Act.
“We call on President Buhari to scrap the IMC and comply with the NDDC Act by inaugurating the Governing Board for the NDDC.
“We wish to restate that the NDDC Act does not recognize any form of Interim Management Committee or indeed any other form of Management in whatever manner or by whatever name called except as strictly prescribed in the NDDC Act, 2000, as amended, particularly sections 2 and 10 of the Act, which are the Governing Board and Management Committee and whose members must be nominated to the Senate for screening and confirmation by the President of Nigeria.
“The NDDC Act provides for the president to nominate a Chairman, Managing Director, Two Executive Directors and one person who shall be an indigene of an oil-producing area to represent each of the following member States, that is Abia, Akwa-Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Imo, Ondo, and Rivers states, and three persons to represent each of the non-oil mineral producing geo-political zones. Other members are a representative of Oil producing companies in the Niger- Delta nominated by the Oil producing companies; one person to represent the Federal Ministry of Finance; and one person to represent the Federal Ministry of Environment. By the provisions of the NDDC Act, they shall be appointed for a fixed term of four years in the first instance subject to the confirmation of the Senate.
“This is the constitutional provision duly followed by President Buhari who officially nominated members for the Governing Board and Management Committee vied a letter to the Senate dated 18th October 2019 and personally signed by him which was read on the floor of the Senate by the President of the Senate.
“As required by Section 2 (2a) of the NDDC Act, 2000 which President Buhari also specifically cited in his Letter to the Senate seeking the confirmation of the nominees therein, the Senate screened and confirmed the nominees the same way it confirmed other nominees for Appointments and is still confirming many others for other Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the Federal Government of Nigeria and who immediately resumed their duties without any encumbrance. Why then is that of this Governing Board of NDDC different, which has been causing huge embarrassment to President Buhari, the Senate, and Nigeria, and creating avoidable tension in the Oil Producing States of Nigeria?,” the group asked.
Recall that the Federal Government had in October inaugurated a three-man committee to oversee the operations of the Commission. In a statement issued by Godswill Akpabio, Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, the three-man committee is expected to oversee the management of the commission.
According to the statement, Gbene Joi was announced as the new Acting Managing Director; Cairo Ojougboh, as Acting Executive Director, Projects; and Ibanga Bassey, as Acting Executive Director, Finance and Administration.
This has not gone down well with the coalition which alleged that President Buhari was misled to constitute the IMC in a carefully planned agenda to misrepresent the President before the people of the Niger Delta region and the National Assembly.
“The excuse by those who deliberately misled and ill-advised President Buhari to constitute an Interim Management Committee while keeping the confirmed Governing Board on hold, claiming that such illegal IMC is desirable to supervise the forensic auditing before the inauguration of the Governing Board, is not only faulty but appears a carefully planned agenda to ridicule President Buhari and the National Assembly.
“It has become the stock in trade of various groups to make spurious and dubious claims that those demanding the disbandment of the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) are doing so because they are opposed to the forensic audit. This is a blatant lie because as civil society organizations we have demanded a comprehensive audit of the NDDC for several years. What has happened with the current situation is that the minister of the Niger Delta, Chief Godswill Akpabio latched onto the agitation for a Forensic Audit to create an IMC contraption that serves no particular purpose to the people of the region but his self-interest, and orchestrate propaganda that its job is to supervise the audit.
“There is no proper audit anywhere in the world by reputable auditors that need the supervision of the management, let alone an illegal management committee, else it loses its independence and credibility. No serious audit requires the management of the place to supervise it, except, of course, it is an audit with predetermined boundaries. The IMC is therefore no more than an interloper in the affairs of the NDDC, which is why Civil Society Organisations have been consistent in demanding that the NDDC be run by the Governing Board’”, the statement added.
The group wondered how the confirmed Governing Board can become an obstacle to the well-appreciated and welcomed-decision of President Buhari to engage reputable External Auditors to carry out a holistic forensic auditing of the Commission.
“Niger-Delta groups like the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) led by elders statesmen of the region, the Ijaw Youth Council, The Transparency and Accountability Advancement Group, Urhobo Nationality Progress Coalition, Isoko Nation Youth Congress, Oyom Movement, the Niger Delta Ijaw Development Resource Association, the Niger Delta Renaissance Coalition, Transparency, and Accountability Initiative, Act for Positive Transformation Initiative, and the Niger Delta Progress Group, among others across the length and breadth of the Niger Delta have made the point that the continued stay of the IMC is illegal and should be scrapped.
“The IMC contraption has created an unfortunate needless situation where at least four civil matters are challenging its legality in various courts across the country. At no time in the history of the NDDC has there been such bedlam as in the last seven months. All these are needless and it is time for the right thing to be done which is to respect the provisions of the NDDC Act and inaugurate its Governing Board without further delay. The All Progressives Congress should see it as a duty to ensure that it is not seen as running an inchoate administration, and more importantly one that does not respect the country’s laws.
“The administration breached this provision in appointing an IMC unknown to the Act. This is what has led to agitations by communities and groups in the Niger Delta. To remedy this situation, we call on President Buhari to scrap the IMC and re-establish the NDDC Act by inaugurating the Governing Board in line with the Law”, the group canvassed in the statement.
The group further warned against the likelihood of another P & ID issue in Nigeria. Recall that in January 2017, an independent London tribunal found that Nigeria was liable for $6.6 billion in damages against Process and Industrial Development (P&ID) after it failed to deliver on terms agreed in a 2010 gas facility contract. Three years later, and prompted by P&ID looking for enforcement of the ruling, a United Kingdom (U.K.) court ruled that Nigeria’s state-owned assets could be seized if the country refused to settle its bill, which had risen to $9.6 billion because of accrued interest.
The group, therefore, warned of grave consequences if the continued lawlessness is allowed to persist.
“The impact of lawlessness can be grave, even for a sovereign state as recent events have shown. According to the current Federal Government, Nigeria is today sadly battling with the case of the P & ID Multi-Billion Dollar Gas contract issue simply because due process was not adhered to and persons not legally recognized to sign such contracts on behalf of our country, manipulated the previous Government to be permitted to do so.
“Like the Ministry of Petroleum Resources which got us into the P & ID Contract mess, NDDC is an Agency of Federal Government that also deals with and enters into Agreements and Contracts, the reason President Buhari and the Senate must, therefore, hurry now to undo the mistake of imposing an illegal IMC on NDDC. It should simply inaugurate the approved Governing Board and Management Committee of NDDC to forestall a repeat of the grievous mistake made that landed our country in the current P & ID quagmire.
Now that President Buhari is reported to be reviewing all appointments and some major decisions taken under him which may not be to his knowledge or which he was misled to approving, the suspended inauguration of the Governing Board of NDDC should be top on the list”, the group added.