ASABA—TWO Niger-Delta monarchs have asked the Minister of Niger-Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, not to fail on his promise in January that the board of Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, would be inaugurated in April.
Former national chairman, Traditional Rulers of Oil Minerals Producing Communities of Nigeria, TROMPCON, HM Charles Ayemi-Botu, Udurhie 1, the Ovie of Idjerhe kingdom, Delta State, HRM Obukowho Whiskey, who did not disguise their feeling about the minister, made the call on Monday.
This came as campaigners under the auspices of 21st Century Youths of Niger Delta and Agitators with Conscience, 21st CYNDAC, yesterday, entreated Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Akpabio, to turn away from a supposed plan to extend the tenure of the current Sole Administrator of the NDDC, with additional three months.
Recall that Akpabio had while receiving the interim report of NDDC from the forensic auditors, January 6, in Abuja, said, “By April, this year, when we are done with the forensic audit, we will inaugurate a board for this and the report of the forensic audit will be given to those agitating for it so that we can have a new management.”
HM Ayemi-Botu, also the paramount ruler of Seimbiri kingdom, Delta State, said, “My call on Akpabio is to abide by his promise that NDDC board led by Chief Pius Odubu as chairman and Chief Bernard Okumagba as Managing Director would be inaugurated in April, which is just next month.
“However, many know that except it is through divine intervention, Senator Akpabio will not keep to his promise to inaugurate the substantive board of the NDDC. Having strategically positioned his kinsman as a sole administrator, he has succeeded in having the sole and heart of the NDDC, courtesy of Mr President.
“That the forensic audit report was submitted without any fanfare leaves room for suspicion. The entire exercise is fraught with illegality and suspicion and was glaringly designed to scuttle the substantive board,” he said.
Speaking to Vanguard, HRM Whiskey, said: “Akpabio cannot be trusted, the promise by the minister to inaugurate NDDC Board in April is a political statement that should not be taken seriously by a critical stakeholder in the Niger Delta, but he still has to be held accountable for his word. Akpabio’s body language and activities in recent time have clearly shown that he is only buying time to perpetuate more evil and disorganise the 20-year old regional interventionist agency the more.
“He has deliberately turned the good intention of President Muhammadu Buhari to carry out a forensic audit of the agency into a personal project without input of stakeholders. Can you do a forensic audit without visiting project sites? Up to date, no forensic auditor has visited any known community to verify project locations and have stakeholders’ input as to whether such a project is there or not.
“Returning NDDC to the Presidency and inaugurating the already screened and confirmed board of the agency under the chairmanship of Dr Odubu and managing directorship of Chief Okumagba remains the best way to put an end to this dance of shame at the NDDC,” the monarch added.
On his part, the Coordinator of the group, self-styled “General” Izon Ebi, in a statement, said: “We, agitators call on Senator Akpabio to do the needful by inaugurating the screened and confirmed board of NDDC immediately to douse tension and speculation of extending the tenure of the sole administrator for more three months to achieve his planned ethnic agenda of dominance of NDDC and the South-South because of his 2023 ambition.
“The people of Niger Delta expect nothing less than the inauguration of the screened and confirmed board by the National Assembly, commissioning of the headquarters’ building of NDDC and making known the outcome of the forensic audit report publicly.
“We honestly plead with Akpabio to desist from any action capable of eroding all the gains and achievements made and not to allow himself to be seen as unserious and dishonest political strategist that deliberately orchestrated the imbroglio that characterized the Interim Management Committee, IMCs, of Madam Joi Nunieh and Professor Pondei to achieve his game plan.”