NDDC board inaugurated as minister charges members on implementation of forensic report

The Minister of Niger Delta Affair, Umana Okon Umana on Wednesday, inaugurated the Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on New Media, Ms Lauretta Onochie as the Chairman Board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC)

Lauretta Onochie, Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on New Media, was inaugurated as Chairman Board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) on Wednesday by Minister of Niger Delta Affair Umana Okon Umana. Fourteen other members of the Board were also inaugurated.

While inaugurating the NDDC Board members in Abuja, the Minister emphasised the need to follow through on the recommendations made in the Forensic Audit report.

He tasked them with being prudent stewards of the Service’s limited resources by adhering to the operating financial laws and the procurement thresholds established by the Public Procurement Act of the nation.

The Minister also advised the incoming leadership to resist the temptation to hand out contracts without careful consideration. In his opinion, the new administration should instead prioritise finishing ongoing projects so that the NDCC can better fulfil its objective and improve the region’s residents’ quality of life.

“The tasks before the New Board shall include a faithful implementation of the recommendations of the report of the Forensic Audit. Besides the findings of the Forensic Audit, the Government has received numerous petitions alleging irregular employment in the Commission.

“The New Board will have to look into these allegations of irregular employment from 2019 and follow up on the ongoing personnel audit in the Commission to make sure that all employment cases during the period under review were per extant rules and regulations of the Service.

“On our part as the overseeing Ministry, we will not relentlessly provide the Board and the Commission at large with the necessary support and guidance needed for a successful tenure.

“Every contract above the threshold of Management is to be referred to the Ministerial Tenders Board and the Federal Executive Council. Any breach of contract approval limits will attract severe sanctions.

“I also urge you to shun the impulse for the award of spurious and indiscriminate new contracts, and suggest that you instead focus on the completion of ongoing projects to better serve the people of the region and deliver on the mandate of the NDCC, thereby helping to repair the negative public perception for the Commission.”

While speaking to the media after her inauguration, Onochie promised a new approach at the NDDC that would improve the lives of the region’s youth and the general people.

“We have a template; the Minister has spoken widely about how we will reposition the NDDC. We will not do things the way we used to do them before because if we continue doing things the way we did before, we will get the same result that has made NDDC a troubled Commission.

“We are going to have serious changes; we are going to do things differently so that the people of Niger Delta can benefit from what the Nigerian people have been investing in the Niger Delta.

“In the past, the money invested in the Niger Delta finds its way to Abuja, Lagos, London Dubai and elsewhere; that is not what we want anymore; our youths are all over asking to be Personal Assistants where they can be employers of labour.

“We are going to reposition our region, empower our youth population so that they can be proud of who they are, they can be proud of where they come from,” she said.

The board members include Mr Dimgba Erugba (Abia State), Dr Emem Willcox Wills (Akwa Ibom State), Elder Denyanbofa Dimaro (Bayelsa State), Hon. Orok Duke (Cross River State), Dr Pius Odubu (Edo State), Hon. Gbenga Edema (Ondo State), Engr. Anthony Ekene (Imo State), Mr. Elekwachi Dimkpa (Rivers State).

Others are Alhaji. Rep. Mohammed Kabir Abubakar (North Central), Rep. Prof. Tahir Mamman SAN (North East), and Rep. Alhaji. Members of the Board: Sadiq Sami Sule-lkoh (North West Representative), Chief Dr Samuel Ogbuku (Managing Director), Major-General Charles Airhiavbere (Retired) (Executive Director, Finance and Administration), and Charles Ogunmola (Executive Director Project).

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