The Minister for Niger Delta Affairs, Sen. Godswill Akpabio has declared that President Muhammadu Buhari’s decision to appoint a Sole Administrator for the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) is legal.
Akpabio stated this on Friday in Port Harcourt, Rivers State at the opening ceremony of the 4th meeting of the National Council on Niger Delta.
The Minister who said it was wrong to refer to a Presidential appointment as illegality, explained: “Even the first Executive Director of Finance and Administration acted as sole administrator of NDDC at various times, we have also had a sole administrator from River State in the person of Siminetari, we have also had one from Cross River State, as well as Mrs Enya from Bayelsa while awaiting the confirmation of a board.
“It’s not correct that the NDDC has done well, they have not done well, even in my time as Governor they didn’t do well.
“But the appointment of a sole administrator for the NDDC today can not be regarded as illegality.”
According to the Minister, there was need to look at the developmental challenges of the region before talking about the board, maintaining that the the board is just a conglomeration of appointees from politicians.
Akpabio, according to a statement by Ministry’s Director Press and Public Relations, Patricia Deworitshe, disclosed that governors from the Niger Delta region had told the President that they wanted a forensic audit of the NDDC before going ahead to bring on a board.
He further disclosed that the ideal of interim management was to oversee the audit so that the result will be given to the new board for implementation and assured that a new board of NDDC was still coming.
“But the question is, after 19 years of board what have we got to show.” Akpabio added.
He expained further: “Today Buhari realised that there was need to reposition the NDDC to meet the yearnings and aspiration of people in the region and instituted a forensic audit which is different from statutory audit.
“The forensic audit is aim at asking questions about why are we here? where we are now? otherwise the NDDC was dripping to a total collapse.
“We believe strongly that at the end of that exercise we will come up with a workable recommendations, nobody is going to be a permanent Minister or President but let us create a structure for posterity to judge us. This is where I think the President should be commended.”
The Minister lamented a lack of harmony between development agencies and the Niger Delta state governments.
According to him: “Some State Governors have sent thugs to chase NDDC contractors out of the site even when they have no budget to develop that particular Infrastructure, so when that happens, how can that lead to harmony?
“We have a budget through the year, the NDDC looks at the budget, and stakeholders approach the NDDC to say that the state governments have left a developmental plan if they could get assistance and as an intervention agency we will say we will come take care of it, it is that time the state governments will say that they have planned to do it in the next two years that we must leave their domain.
“This leaving of domain is not as a result of the fact that they don’t want the infrastructure but because of political differences.
“My own belief is that development should not have column, development should not have political party because what the people need is Infrastructure, whether you are in harmonious relationship or not, give the people what they need, they also need employment.
“So many government come and go and you don’t see a single industry on ground.”