By Jesutega Onokpasa
In the buildup to the imminent inauguration of a substantive board for the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, a loud cacophony of rather perplexing calls for the commission’s board “to be constituted” this way or, “reconstituted” that way have been shouted over the rooftops by all manner of interest groups from all manner of quarters.
Yet, if one may ask, the board of which commission is supposed to be “constituted” or indeed, “reconstituted” for that matter?
The notion that the NDDC currently lacks a substantive board is a dastardly lie from the pit of hell itself and could only possibly ring true in a clime like ours where the peddling and maintenance of diabolical falsehoods has bizarrely claimed centre stage as some sort of national ethos.
As far as the law is concerned the NDDC already has a substantive board constituted by no less an authority than the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Federal Republic and duly screened and confirmed by no less an authority than the Senate of that same republic!
It is quite unfortunate that it required the intervention of Government Ekpemupolo, aka Tompolo, to bring about a return to the path of legality in the governance of the commission, a situation which can only serve to reinforce the notion that without violence or, at any rate, its threat, Niger Deltans should never expect justice within a Nigeria, whose development and sustenance they have, pound for pound, by far been the greatest contributors to.
This is even more pertinent against the backdrop of mounting nationwide insecurities, ever deepening divisions and quite unsettling sabre rattling from all points of the Nigerian compass.
That aside, the idea of “constituting” or “reconstituting” a board for the NDDC is a complete nonstarter from the point of view of legality.
In the first place, the inauguration of the substantive board of the commission is aimed at correcting a blatant illegality by bringing to a close its administration contrary to law, in which case, it certainly cannot be that it is purposed to correct an illegality by its replacement with another illegality!
Surely, we cannot proceed to correct a mistake by repeating the mistake!
Given the pendency, at this very moment, of a substantive board nominated by Mr. President and, confirmed by the Senate, the same President, cannot then be misguided into assaulting the constitution and, breaking the law by purporting to constitute or reconstitute the NDDC board and proceed to send a new list to the Senate all over again.
Needless to say, it would amount to a most egregious constitutional abomination for the Senate, of all authorities, to undermine and embarrass itself by repudiating its own earlier work and then proceed to consider any new list of fresh nominees, having already duly and honourable concluded that process more than a year ago!
There is already a substantive board of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, indeed one constituted by the President and confirmed by the Senate.
For the avoidance of all doubt, short of the entire board resigning even before it has been inaugurated, or, its entire membership kicking the bucket overnight, there is simply no lawful means available to us for reconstituting that already existing board or, much like a bunch of kindergarten kids with no knowledge of the law, simply pretending it doesn’t exist and constituting a fresh board!
The legal mechanisms for constituting or reconstituting a board for the NDDC while a substantive board is pending are not available because they simply do not exist in the first place.
We are not a banana republic for God’s sake!
In other words, there is no lawful recourse for the President in the present circumstance to “constitute” or “reconstitute”, such being actions he has already dutifully concluded in the eyes of the law.
In short, there is no board to be constituted or reconstituted; rather there is an already constituted, screened and confirmed board waiting to be inaugurated!
There should be no further tolerance for any more subterfuges to delay the lawful management of the NDDC and exclude the Niger Deltan people from the legally envisaged participation in the affairs of the commission they are entitled to, through their representatives nominated by our President and confirmed by the Senate.
There is already a substantive board of the commission in-waiting and it should be inaugurated first thing tomorrow morning.
NB: Jesutega Onokpasa, wrote in this piece from Warri ([email protected])