By Ebenezer Ishola, Abuja
It is important to understand that the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) was created largely as a response to the demands of the population of the Niger Delta; a populous area inhabited by a diversity of minority ethnic groups in the southern part of Nigeria.
Reason: Violent confrontations between the state, oil companies, as well as with other communities has constrained oil production, as disaffected youth or organizations deliberately disrupt oil firm’s operations in attempts to bring about some kind of change. These disruptions have been extremely costly to the Nigerian oil industry, and to the Nigerian economy.
The NDDC therefore is a federal government agency established by the Nigerian Government in the Year 2000 with the mandate of developing the oil-rich Niger Delta region of Nigeria. NDDC went on to become a part of the parent and supervising ministry, the Ministry of the Niger Delta.
One of the core mandates of the NDDC is to train and educate the youths of the oil rich Niger Delta regions; curb hostilities and militancy, while developing key infrastructure to promote diversification and productivity.
The current Minister of the Niger Delta, Senator Godswill Akpabio, under whose supervision the NDDC falls, and who himself is from that part of Nigeria, has gone to commendable length since he was appointed by Nigeria’s President, Mr. Muhammadu Buhari, to safeguard the NDDC’s mandate, ensure the commission is functional, effective, and above all, free from the cabals that has held it down, thereby holding down the sustainable development of the region for decades.
And that’s where the problems begin.
The minister has not only gone on to uncover massive frauds perpetuated before his appointment, but is also making compact moves to ensure such blatant criminality is eliminated completely for the sake of the people of the region; a proactive effort that United Kingdom based good governance/human rights group, Global Peace Movement International has noticed and ready to support.
But the hawks and cabals are having none of that.
The minister has been subjected to all manner of trials and persecution, from our investigations. He has been blackmailed, threatened, abused; but the senator simply forges on in his mission to make NDDC regain its purpose for the benefit of the region.
President General of Global Peace Movement International (UK) Dr Mike Uyi, whose organization has presence all over Nigeria, told reporters recently in London that what the minister is grappling with in trying to bring sanity to the NDDC was unimaginable.
Pledging the solidarity and support of Global Peace Movement International (UK)- an organization www. NowAfricaMedia gathered operates in over 47 nations of the world -to support what the minister is doing, Dr Uyi said NDDC must be freed from those that has held it bounds for years, and development must come to the long suffering people of the Niger Delta region.
“Senator Godswill Akpabio has opened the gates for the demons at NDDC and sent them packing.”, the Global Peace Movement International president said in an online interview with our reporter from London.
“Never in history for nineteen years has anybody rattled the cabals of the NDCC or dared them to their face. the president has put in the match where the battle matters most”, the Global Peace President said.
Not surprisingly, reports from Nigeria shows that sanity is finally coming to what can rightly be described as the most violated, plundered, pressed, squeezed, ravaged and raped institution in Nigeria; the NDDC.
Many are enthralled that the decades of siege on the Commission is over as the Interim Management Committee of NDDC which is led by Professor Kemebradikumo Pondei and backed by the supervising Minister, Godswill Akpabio dare to tread where others failed!
“For the first time, the real tormentors and looting experts at the NDDC from the defunct Oil and Gas Mineral Producing Commission (OMPADEC} have been axed”,
Now Africa Media recalls that since President Buhari approved a forensic audit to identify and block the bleeding away of Commission’s resource, all hell has been let loose, as senior civil servants have been massively transferred out of the Dappa Biriye Building Headquarters of the Commission.
According to our sources in Nigeria, “the last straw was the conspiracy by a serving director in charge of procurement, who in cahoots with some members of the National Assembly, decided to award a contract for the supply of COVID-19 equipment to the nine states under the NDDC.
“The letter which was unauthorized by the Management alleged that the contract had been awarded to a company called SIGNORA to the tune of N5 billion, and when the management found out, they canceled and sought to investigate those behind it.
“The senior staff involved in the illicit award letter quickly played a fast one by making the said letter public, in a bid to indict and cause public opprobrium against the IMC and the Minister of the Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio.”
While that can be said to be a game of wits you may say, the scandal also trended in the social media space.
Not deterred by the outcry against the IMC and the Minister, the NDDC, we gathered, taken the decision to punish all that were part of the sleaze, considering moreso that the plot would have further cast aspersions on the integrity of the commission.
“They have been ordered by the IMC to go on compulsory leave, from where they would be retired”, the newspaper gathered.
According to sources within the NDDC, “ It is no longer news that these set of civil servants that have been ordered to proceed on compulsory leave/retirement have held the commission hostage with fake and inflated contracts, fraudulent payments and padding of emergency jobs which they award to their companies through some of their cronies and other youth organizations.
“They have consistently blackmailed every politician appointed into submission, to either do their bidding or be petitioned out. Every document in the commission is photocopied and transmitted to certain “Youths” who are on their payroll to carry out the nefarious activities of holding press conferences and petition writing to EFCC and ICPC.
“This group of public servants claim to run things at NDDC”, our source maintained “The have ways of covering their tracks, because they have been around for far too long.
“They aid and abet the politicians assigned to manage the affairs of the commission. With a huge financial war chest, they can prosecute any media war against any management who would not suit their purpose. Unknown to many, these set of senior staff flaunt their wealth unhindered. They own Porsche hotels and houses all over and even overseas.
“The latest trend in the media and sponsored attacks on the present management at NDDC was catalyzed by the audacity of Senator Godswill Akpabio and the IMC to transfer over 50 of them, who have held the Commission and the Niger Delta region hostage for almost 20 years. The decision by the President for a forensic audit over 6 months ago is another reason for the heightened media attacks and trial of the management”, She maintained.
However, for the President General of Global Peace Movement International, the persistent challenge by vested interests to halt the reforms the minister is currently executing at NDDC is not only ironic, but worrisome and inimical to the development of the Niger Delta region of Nigeria.
This he said, is due to the fact that for the 19-year period under probe, the PDP held sway for 15 years under President Obasanjo, Yaradua and Jonathan, while the APC under President Buhari has been in charge for 4 years.
“Presently, the Senate Committee on NDDC at the National Assembly is headed by PDP members who were alleged to have paid their ways into those Committees. They have been at logger heads with every management appointed by Buhari to head the Commission, contrary to the easy passage of Budgets and approvals in the past when their party held sway.
“Surprisingly, the NASS is controlled by the ruling APC, yet, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for the APC controlled Management of the Commission to have easy access to funds for the development of the region. Who is then responsible for this mess? Is it an orchestrated plot by some people to frustrate the development of the oil producing states which have been the pillar of the Nigerian economy? The intrigues and power play behind the scene will shock many as details of those involved will be unveiled soon.”
According to Dr Uyi, “no matter the propaganda against the honourable minister for Niger Delta, it cannot work. Darkness can never overtake light in any circumstances. no matter the powers of the exposed evil cabals of Niger Delta, the region can never return back to the past.
“God has used Senator Godswill Akpabio to rejuvenate the 9 Niger Delta states in Nigeria”, the Global Peace President said.