Akwa working against NDDC board inauguration group insists – Guardian Nigeria

Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) building
For denying a statement that he made and which was widely reported in the media wherein the Sole Administrator of NDDC, Effiong Akwa, stated that “people should reduce the agitation on board and work with the current management of the NDDC,” Niger Delta United Congress has reiterated its position that Akwa is working against the Niger Delta legitimate demand for the inauguration of NDDC substantive board, in accordance with the law setting up the Commission.
In a statement by Ebizomor Brisibe, President, and Edem Archibong, Secretary of NDUC, the group wondered why it took Effiong Akwa “two long weeks to make an embarrassing volte-face and eat his own words which are in print and online and can therefore be easily verified to know who is lying between him (Akwa) and our group.”
According to the group, “rather than apologise to the people of the Niger Delta region, whose foremost agency, NDDC, he is occupying in violation of the NDDC Act, Effiong Akwa, Sole Administrator of NDDC, in an unrestrained verbiage of egregious subterfuge was unhinged in his farcical denial and flip-flop on his ill-advised but widely villified statement that people should reduce the agitation on board and work with the current management of the NDDC.”
NDUC stated that “in the syndicated media report, a vexatious flip-flop, in Punch of June 17, 2022, “NDDC debunks newspaper report, says commission not opposed to new board,” the embattled Akwa, made an embarrassing volte-face of flatly denying statements that he made since two weeks ago.”
Brisibe and Archibong noted that in the Punch report above, the NDDC issued a statement where it stated that “We wish to state categorically that Dr. Akwa, who was not present at the occasion, but was represented by his Special Adviser on Youths and Sports, Engr. Udengs Eradiri, did not make that statement at the online interaction.” The group pointed out that the “contentious anti-Niger Delta statement that Effiong Akwa made but which he is denying and strenuously striving to extricate himself from” is the statement that “People should reduce the agitation on board and work with the current management of the NDDC.”
 
Citing several newspapers, NDUC stated that as can be verified from these newspaper reports – “Trust Buhari on Niger Delta Devt, NDDC Boss Urges Stakeholders,” ThisDay, June 6, 2022; “NDDC: Forensic audit reveals can of worms, we’re treating it — Akwa,” Vanguard, June 6, 2022; “Buhari will hand over reformed NDDC to Niger Delta,” The Nation, Jun 6, 2022; and “Trust Buhari on NDDC, Niger Delta, Akwa urges stakeholders,” Blueprint, June 6, 2022, “Akwa categorically made the above statement.” According to the above newspaper reports, “The NDDC boss spoke during a webinar organised by his Special Adviser on Youths and Sports, Engr. Udengs Eradiri, and attended by hundreds of youths across the world.”
The group also drew attention that “further nail was pierced on Akwa’s untenable denial in a story published by Vanguard newspaper on Saturday, June 18, 2022, entitled “Row Over NDDC Board: N’Delta stakeholders rebuff Akwa’s plea on agitation,” in which, according to the paper, “Lawyers, activists, puncture claim forensic audit will affect board inauguration.” At the said webinar, the newspaper report quoted Akwa as stating that “The board will come when all the parameters have been put together so that going forward, the new NDDC can start on good footing. People should reduce the agitation on board and work with the current management of the NDDC”.
Niger Delta United Congress observed that “Akwa is miffed that we called him out when we stated that in an unrestrained show of disregard for the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, he (Akwa) had the effrontery to state that the Act establishing the commission was undergoing required reviews, we can no longer rely on the existing Act,” and that “people should reduce the agitation on board and work with the current management of the NDDC.”
The group further noted that in his “puerile denial, Akwa also contradicted President Buhari” when he (Akwa) stated that “the public should, therefore, disregard such spurious lies being masterminded, fabricated and orchestrated by persons who are positioning themselves and their associates for appointment into the Board of the NDDC.”
 
NDUC however pointed out that “President Buhari, in exercise of his powers and in accordance with the law establishing NDDC forwarded the list of nominees for the NDDC Board to the Senate for confirmation on October 18, 2019. The Senate dutifully screened and confirmed the nominees of President Buhari as Board and Management of NDDC on November 5, 2019.”
According to the group, “it is therefore the height of impunity, disrespect, and affront on President Muhammadu Buhari who personally promised to inaugurate the substantive Board of NDDC” when Akwa states that “persons are positioning themselves and their associates for appointment into the Board of the NDDC.”
Brisibe and Archibong recalled that President Buhari, on June 24, 2021, while receiving the leadership of Ijaw National Congress (INC) at the State House in Abuja, promised that the NDDC Board would be inaugurated as soon as the forensic audit report is submitted, which report has been submitted to President Buhari since nine months ago on September 2, 2021.

 
At that occasion, President Buhari said that ‘‘Based on the mismanagement that had previously bedeviled the NDDC, a forensic audit was set up and the result is expected by the end of July, 2021. I want to assure you that as soon as the forensic audit report is submitted and accepted, the NDDC Board will be inaugurated.”
 
The group regretted however that The President has not yet fulfilled his promise nine months after submission of the audit report and the Ijaw National Congress (INC), “an authentic stakeholder in Niger Delta, which he received in audience when he made the above promise to Nigerians has been compelled to describe the delay in the inauguration of the NDDC Board as a clear betrayal of trust and display of state insensitivity on the Ijaw nation and Niger Delta region.”
 
NDUC restated that “this position of INC and other authentic Niger Delta stakeholders represent the collective position of Niger Deltans, not the subterfuge from a puppet and beneficiary of the current illegality in NDDC who unabashedly sings the deleterious tunes of his paymasters to suppress Niger Deltans and deprive them of a properly governed and representative NDDC with necessary checks and balances in accordance with the NDDC Act.”

 
Brisibe and Archibong pointed out that “NDDC is regulated by its establishment Act which clearly stipulates how the agency should be governed. The ongoing contraption of administering the Commission by a Sole Administrator is a violation of the NDDC Act. What the NDDC Act provides is that the Board and Management (Managing Director and two Executive Directors) of the NDDC at any point in time should follow the provisions of the law which states that the Board and management is to be appointed by the President, subject to confirmation by the Senate. In effect, the current Sole Administrator (Effiong Akwa), who is not recognized by the law setting up NDDC, the NDDC Act, therefore lacks the authority, and even moral standing to begin to pontificate on the “required reviews” of a subsisting law which he currently violates by administering the NDDC as a Sole Administrator.”
 
NDUC said that rather “what has subsisted in NDDC for the past two years is that there is an illegal sole administrator who is both Managing Director, Executive Director of Finance, and Executive Director Projects, in clear breach of NDDC Act which ensures separation of these duties to ensure checks and balances.”
 
According to the group, “the continued administration of the NDDC by an Interim Sole administrator (Effiong Akwa) is illegal because the NDDC Act has no provision for this illegality as the NDDC Act only provides that the Board and Management (Managing Director and two Executive Directors) of the NDDC at any point in time should follow the provisions of the law which states that the Board and management is to be appointed by the President, subject to confirmation by the Senate. In effect, nobody is supposed to begin to administer the NDDC and utilise the huge funds accruing to it on a monthly basis without passing through this legal requirement as stipulated in the NDDC Act.”
 
Brisibe and Archibong stated that the “continued illegality of the Sole administrator contraption administering NDDC in breach of the law, NDDC Act, is a national embarrassment that should be of grave concern to President Buhari, who should also not condone the arbitrary use of his name and office to justify the ongoing illegality in NDDC, most especially for his legacy when he leaves office in May 2023.”
According to the group, for a President who stated in October 2019 when he received in audience the governors of the nine constituent states of the NDDC that “I try to follow the Act setting up these institutions,” the Niger Delta region, the country and indeed the world expects him to “end the illegality of further administering NDDC with a Sole Administrator which is in breach of NDDC Act – the law setting-up the Commission.”
“President Buhari should also be concerned about the disdain of the Niger Delta people over the manner the NDDC has been handled, most especially administering the Commission with illegal interim management/sole administrator contraptions for five years in his seven years in office, and therefore needs to end the ongoing illegality in NDDC if he is to be remembered for good in the Niger Delta,” the group noted.

 
NDUC regretted that “whereas the North East Development Commission (NEDC) has been allowed to function with its duly constituted Board in place in line with its NEDC Act thereby ensuring proper corporate governance, accountability, checks and balances and fair representation of its constituent states, the NDDC on the other hand has been run arbitrarily in the last three years by Interim committees/sole administrator in breach of the NDDC Act.”
  
The group stated that presently, across the length and breadth of the Niger Delta region there are “unending calls, demands and peaceful agitations of youths, men and women, political and traditional leaders and civil society organisations that the inauguration of the board of NDDC will ensure compliance with the NDDC Act, promote and sustain peace, equity and fairness, transparency and accountability, good governance and rapid development and transformation of the Niger Delta Region.”
Brisibe and Archibong observed that “as a Commission established in 2000 by an Act of Parliament, the ongoing national embarrassment at NDDC should be of grave concern to the President, about his legacy when he leaves office in 2023 and thereby should persuade him to put an end to the illegality of further administering NDDC with a Sole Administrator that is not known to the law setting-up the Commission.”
 
Niger Delta United Congress affirmed that “while we condemn in its entirety the unwarranted and unauthorized use of President Buhari’s name and office to try and justify the ongoing illegality in NDDC, we align with the demands of authentic Niger Delta stakeholders and urge President Buhari to end the illegal sole administratorship at the NDDC; inaugurate the NDDC Governing Board in line with the NDDC Act to represent the nine constituent states, and thereby ensure proper corporate governance, checks and balances, accountability, transparency, and probity in managing the Commission.”

 
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