OPEN LETTER TO HIS EXCELLENCY; MUHAMMADU BUHARI, GCFR; PRESIDENT, FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA ON THE STATE OF NIGER DELTA DEVELOPMENT COMMISSION (NDDC).
Compliments of the season, and let me crave your indulgence to congratulate you on the several fundamental bold steps your administration has taken to repair the damage of the past and jump start the economy from the state of incubus where you took over.
Today, the Nigerian economy is on the growth trajectory as attested to by growth indices and economic indicators. I make bold to declare that you are the first President to patriotically pull your sleeves to tackle the real challenges in Nigeria without consideration for public acclamation. I salute your infectious faith in Nigeria and your result oriented governance style!
May I respectfully draw your Excellency’s kind attention to an eerie, cryptical and seemingly inscrutable development surrounding the management of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) in the eyes of the Nigerian public. Your government recently took some critical steps consecutively, aimed supposedly at repositioning the NDDC. These steps include but not limited to the nomination of the Chairman and members of a new NDDC governing board, the inauguration of a forensic audit panel to look into the books of the organization since inception, the consideration and forwarding of names of the nominated members and Chairman of the Board to the Senate for screening and the subsequent screening and confirmation of the nominees by the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The Nigerian public, particularly, the people of the Niger Delta welcomed these sequence of events with great hope and excitement, but feel sorely irked by the oddity of setting up an Interim Management Committee to manage the affairs of the NDDC until the forensic audit of the Commission is completed. This fact was superciliously made public by Mr. Godswill Akpabio, the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs.
Mr President, there is palpable fear and frustration gripping the region just now. Not even the environmentally and economically devastated villages and hamlets are spared the agonizing fear of a possible new round of the state of abandonment and neglect. Their state of apprehension stems from what resonates as a deliberate act of clogging the wheel of progress in the region.
Come to think of it, the haste that attended the constitution of the Interim Management Committee escapes rationality and justification against the background of the manifest plan of government to which the Minister was privy. Weighed against the commitment of your government to strict observance of due process and the anti- corruption fight of the government, the smuggling of an illegal contraption in the name Interim Management Committee is highly suggestive of anything but integrity. One has therefore, come to the ineluctable conclusion that those who framed the alien phraseology and suggestion to Your Excellency were not conscientious enough and are certainly not on the same page with you!
Sir, a few questions might throw some light on the preponderance of view that the introduction of the Interim Management option for NDDC unarguably was not a product of good counsel or sound logic: If a forensic audit panel is today constituted to look into the books of the Ministry of Finance, will it be necessary to interdict the Minister and the Permanent Secretary in favor of an adhoc body to manage the affairs of the Ministry? If the forensic audit of NDDC has not stopped the routine work of the Interim Management Team, why will it interfere with the work of the Chairman and members of Board of the Commission, who are in any case, new to the operations of the Commission?
The more the Minister tries to defend his action, the more inane and unpersuasive he sounds. Truly, you cannot stand erect an empty bag no matter how much you try!
Mr President Sir, the buck stops at your table as Chief Executive of the nation. In my humble opinion, mistakes cannot be avoided by a government that is in hurry to find solutions to myriads of challenges confronting the people.
Your Excellency was rightly shocked and angry at the unimaginable level of sleaze and graft taking place in the NDDC and was determined to halt forthwith the further bleeding of the region. However, as they say in common parlance, two wrongs cannot make anyone right.
Having kick-started the due process for the reconstitution of the NDDC Governing Board in accordance with the law, it is only logical that the nominees will be allowed to take charge of the responsibilities of their offices upon confirmation by the Senate. It is clear that the discharge of their responsibilities will not in any way interfere with the work of the forensic auditors.
However, Mr. President may wish to put the new board on its toes by giving lawful matching orders and guidelines for operation.
On the other hand, the continued usurpation of the powers of the Board by handpicked elements without legal backing is outright negation of what your government stands for.
It is not only repugnant to the spirit and letters of the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999 as amended) together with good conscience, but also embarrassing, offensive and an assault on the sensibilities of Nigerians. Mr. President is advised to act now to remove this blight!
When carcasses are left unattended at the village square, the village Elders should not be surprised at the invasion of vultures.
Flagrant and glaring mistakes of stupendous dimension such as the constitution of an illegal contraption in the name of Interim Management Committee, in preference for a legally constituted body must not be allowed to undermine the good and noble intentions of Mr. President. Quite often, scathing views and opposition animadversion are allowed to overshadow actions of government. Let this be different! As your loyalist and admirer, I plead with you Sir, to reverse this grievous error!
I humbly urge Your Excellency to insist on following due process as you have always done and allow those who painstakingly went through the process successfully to play their statutory role.
Sir, by the confirmation of your nominees as the NDDC Governing Board Members by the Senate, the three- man Interim Management Committee set up by the Minister of the Niger Delta Affairs becomes vitiated. It should immediately yield grounds for the body constituted according to statutes to discharge the responsibilities assigned to their new offices including the enthronement of credibility, transparency and accountability. The ordinary man and woman in the Niger Delta are anxious to see the new NDDC board setting itself apart in corporate governance philosophy which will put the interest of the people in the forefront.
Your Excellency, accept the assurances of my highest regards.
Washington Osa Osifo, Esq, is the Member-Elect for Uhunmwode Constituency, Edo State House of Assembly.