From Ameachi Prosper (The New Diplomat’s Delta State Correspondent)
Elder statesman and Chairman of Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), Chief Edwin Clark, has appealed to President Muhammad Buhari to direct the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, to stop interfering in the operations of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
Clark, who made the appeal when the Interim Administrator of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Effiong Okon, and his team in Interim Management Committee (IMC), paid him a visit, called on Senator Akpabio to live above personal interest and have the interest of the Niger Delta region at heart.
Clarke said: “There is a law governing NDDC which we all participated in producing and no one should bypass that law or bridge it. Even Mr. President has no power to bypass the law establishing NDDC except he has to go back to National Assembly for any amendment. So, any attempt to bridge the law will become illegal, null and void.
“Well, there has been many arguments about sole administrator or the legality and illegality which have been discussed…the NDDC was under the presidency and we know how it was used.
“But many of us never thought moving NDDC to Niger Delta ministry was the best thing to do because it would be misused. Niger Delta ministry is our own ministry, therefore, NDDC going to the ministry would not have been a bad idea so we supported it.
“But what we are opposed is that NDDC is an independent agency like any other one like NPA. In other agencies, the ministers did not abandon their own ministries to go and concentrate in these agencies, that is the problem we have. For sometime, some of us have been advising the minister, don’t abandon your ministry and concentrate on NDDC it is not fair.
“The minister of transportation does not concentrate on NPA or NIMASA or Railways. The minister of state petroleum did not concentrate on NNPC. So the problem we have therefore, is the constant interference with the affairs of NDDC by the minister of Niger Delta. So, I do hope that in your performance of duties you should have a free hand.
“I was shocked when the minister announced that the East West road must be completed, N18 billion was voted for the ministry for capital project. And the minister said we are going to spend about N16 billion on the east west road and you have just confirmed it.
“There’s no provision anywhere even in the NDDC budget that part of the budget is to be used in the completion of the east west road. East west road is one of the economic roads in Nigeria, I see no reason why the Federal ministry of works should not be in charge of the East West Road.
“That is not the duty of NDDC, east west road is the duty of the ministry of works. So we have been protesting that the federal government should make available special funds for that very important economic road. In the recent budget, Kano State alone has three roads within Kano costing about N60 billion to be constructed with our oil money.