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NDDC Probe: Urhobo Leaders Decry Conspiracy Of Silence By Niger Delta Governors

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… Warn Against Scrapping Of NDDC

By Matthew Ogune, Abuja

THE Urhobo Leadership Forum Abuja (ULFA) has raised alarm over the silence of the governors of the Niger Delta region on the massive looting rocking the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

Raising this alarm yesterday in Abuja at a press conference, the President of the forum, Jonathan Esin, wondered why the state Chief Executives would keep mum in spite of the fact that they have statutory roles to play under the Act in the attainment of the development goals of the region.

Esin warned that, on no account should the NDDC be scrapped, explaining: “The ULFA cautions that such an action will create it’s own problem. Therefore, this matter should be handled with the seriousness, equity and justice the situation demands so that there is no relapse or degeneration into the destructive militancy that predated the establishment of the NDDC.”

Noting that the NDDC is an interventionist agency created to fast track development in the region, Esin further explained: “The intendment of the NDDC Act is subverted and jettisoned in favour of directives from those who exercise the Federal might. This has been with the connivance of some Niger-Delta elements, all of whom are unperturbed by the dire future of the people of the area when oil and gas exploration and production would have become a thing of the past.

“The quality of persons appointed to the Board and the Chief Executive of NDDC leaves much to be desired. A situation where both the Board Chairman and Chief Executive of the Commission have been mainly politicians is inimical to the growth and development of the Niger-Delta area. Apart from only 2, all other past Managing Directors have been politicians. The consequence is that they have continued to be lackeys and stooges of their mentors.

“The leadership of the NDDC has remained unstable. Indeed, it’s 20 years of existence, it has had 16 Chief Executives, an average of one MD every one year and three months. This development appears to ensure the turn by turn looting of the NDDC.”

He continued: “In order to bring the rot and looting in the NDDC to an end and reposition it to effectively deliver on its statutory responsibilities, the ULFA hereby recommends that sensitive positions in the NDDC such as, Director/CEO, should henceforth not be given to active partisan political actors. Nevertheless, in light of the exigencies of the moment, the members of the Board earlier screened by the Senate, should be sworn-in without delay to enable the Commission settle quickly into its role.

“A competent and reputable external audit firm should be engaged after the inauguration of the Board to execute the forensic audit of the Commission including top management officials since the inception of the NDDC.

“The recommendations of the National Assembly’s investigation of the NDDC interim Management Committee should be acted upon by the Executive
branch of Government without delay.

“All persons involved in financial embezzlement and misappropriation should
face the penalty imposed by law, including forfeiture of improperly acquired wealth.

“The audited accounts and reports of the NDDC should be undertaken and made availabie as stipulated by the enabling Act.

“Government should strengthen the Commission’s financial management and internal control system. For example, in the implementation of the Procurement Act, provisions against contract splitting should be rigorously enforced.

“All major contracts or projects should be handled by reputable contracting firms, preferably in which the Niger Delta indigenes have substantial stakes.”

The President called on the state governors to be more alive to their responsibilities of advising the NDDC board and monitoring the activities of the Commission for the equitable development of the Niger Delta region as stipulated in the enabling Act.

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