Group: President Buhari should listen to South-South governors, inaugurate NDDC board

22. President Muhammadu Buhari has lauded the cordial relationship existing between the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and the National Assembly.

Niger Delta People’s Forum has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to listen to South-South governors and inaugurate governing board.

Disclosing this in a statement sent to newsmen, Chief Boma Ebiakpo, National Chairman, said: “Less than two months after the South-South Governors’ Forum rose from their meeting in Port Harcourt and called for the urgent inauguration of the Governing Board of NDDC, in accordance with the law, the Governor of Delta state, has again, on behalf of the Forum stated in unmistakable terms their displeasure over Federal Government’s refusal to inaugurate a substantive Board.

“We commend the South-South Governors’ Forum, the authentic representatives of the people of the Niger Delta for rising to the occasion at this time of palpable tension across the region, following the refusal of the Federal Government do abide by the law and inaugurate a substantive Board.

“According to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State, and Chairman of South-South Governor’s Forum, “the governors of the South-South region are totally embarrassed that after several months Federal Government has not been able to reconstitute the board of the NDDC. As governors we have spoken. What is going on at the moment is not the best for our region, it is not the best for the oil producing states.”

“Accompanied by Akwa Ibom State Governor, Emmanuel Udom, Governor Okowa who spoke to newsmen on Thursday, April 29, 2021, at Oleh, Isoko South Local Government Area, shortly after the inauguration of the dualized Emore Road and Emore Grammar School, stated that “in the first instance, you have sole administrator that is unknown to law. When we have a full board, the full board has representation from each state and people are able to speak for their States and ensure that there is justice and equity in the distribution of amenities and facilities.”

“Continuing, he said, “I think the time has come for the presidency to listen to the South-South governors and all of us from the oil producing states to please quickly inaugurate the board because we are suffering from it. We believe that as at today, the funds of that agency is not being managed equitably and it is not being managed in such a way that we can truly say that are accountable.”

“Re-echoing the restiveness now pervading the entire Niger Delta Region due to the ongoing illegality at NDDC, Governor Okowa warned that “we are currently being fooled; we are not happy about it and when our people do agitate, we believe that they are doing so in the right direction.”

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“The unanimity of credible voices requesting for a Governing Board to be immediately inaugurated for the NDDC in line with the NDDC Act without any further delay has reached a frightening height in the past week.

“On April 25, The Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) worldwide issued President Muhammadu Buhari a one-month ultimatum to inaugurate the substantive board of the Niger Delta Development Commission, (NDDC) otherwise the Council will not guarantee the safety of oil operations in the region.

“Also at a peaceful protest in Warri on Thursday, The Niger Delta Youth Council (NDYC) urged the Federal Government to urgently inaugurate a new Board for the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to avoid strife in the region.

“Then, in a no-holds-barred submission, The Ovie of Idjerhe Kingdom, Delta State, His Royal Majesty, King Obukohwo Whiskey Udurhie I, unequivocally stated that “we are beginning to think that the Federal Government is collaborating with a Minister to undo the Niger Delta people. We are saying categorical “No To Sole Administratorship”. A group of Nigerians were nominated, screened, and confirmed by the National Assembly and it behooves on the National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to rise to the occasion by pushing for the inauguration of the committee that they have screened and confirmed.”

“It is therefore imperative that at this time when Nigeria is facing multiple conflicts across the country the peace of the Niger Delta is not taken for granted

“We call on the President to heed the counsel of stakeholders of the region who have demanded the speedy inauguration of a substantive Governing Board for the Commission and an immediate end to the appointment of illegal Interim Managements since October 2019.

“Beyond the well-stated and established case of the illegality of interim managements, not known to the law establishing NDDC, but which have been superintending over the affairs of the Commission since October 2019, there is also the urgent need to douse the rising tension in the region which has reached fever pitch.

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“The patient but long-suffering people of the Niger Delta are beginning to lose their cool over an unending forensic audit that has been used as guise in the past 18 months.

“It is important to recall that President Muhamnadu Buhari had in exercise of his constitutional powers forwarded to the Senate for confirmation, the appointment of a 16 – member board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) via a letter dated 18th October, 2019, personally signed by him.

“The president’s letter read: “In accordance with the provision of Section 2(2)(a) of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) (Establishment) Act, 2000, I write to forward, for confirmation by the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the under listed nominees for appointment into the NDDC board, to occupy the positions indicated against their names.” President Buhari, in the letter, expressed hope that “the Senate will consider and confirm the nominees in the usual expeditious manner”.

“Accordingly, the written request, which was read on the floor of the Senate on Tuesday, October 22, 2019 by its President, Dr Ahmad Lawan, was given expeditious consideration by the upper legislative chamber, which directed its Standing Committee on Niger Delta, to screen all the nominees and report back within a week. The Senate screened and confirmed the appointments of 15 out of the 16 nominees on Tuesday, November 5, 2019, based on the report tabled before it by the Committee on Niger Delta. The inauguration of that Board has been put on hold now for about 18 months. President Muhammadu “Buhari should do the needful to put in place the board of the NDDC in line with the NDDC Act to manage the Commission for the benefit of the people of 9 (nine) Niger Delta states.

“President Buhari should save Nigeria from serious crisis erupting in the Niger Delta as a result of recklessness and selfish missteps at the NDDC.

He should listen to the plea of the South-South Governors’ Forum, which Governor Okowa made on April 29, that “we cry to Mr. President today to quickly inaugurate the Board because it’s in the best interest of the nation and the best interest of the oil-producing states.”

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