More groups are asking President Muhammadu Buhari to follow the law setting up the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and inaugurate the board which was screened and confirmed by the Senate two weeks ago.
In a strongly-worded press statement released on Wednesday November 20, the Coalition of Niger Delta groups asked President Buhari to inaugurate the governing board of the Commission without delay.
The Coalition’s coordinator, Jator Abido told newsmen at the Unity Fountain, Abuja during a solidarity match by the leadership of the Niger Delta Youth Council (NDYC), National Coalition of Niger Delta Ex-Agitators and other relevant stakeholders, that stakeholders in the oil producing region will be forced to march in protest to the Presidential Villa if the Niger Delta minister is allowed to continue with his interim management committee for the NDDC.
Reading from a prepared text signed by leaders of the three groups, Abido said the inauguration of the Interim Management Committee by Akpabio was illegal and alien to the law establishing the NDDC.
The groups stated that: “Our collective decision to embark on a solidarity march to the Presidential Villa is to engage with relevant government officials and to also state our request that the recently-confirmed NDDC Board should be inaugurated immediately by the President.
“The Senate few weeks ago concluded the screening and confirmation of the presidential nominees to the NDDC Board.”
“The NDDC Act 2000 in section 1(1) establishes the Commission while section 2(1)(c) creates a Governing Board to oversee and run the affairs of the Commission which only the President has power to appoint and inaugurate after the screening and confirmation by the Senate as contained in section 2(2)(a) of the Act.”
In the words of the Coalition, “At best, in the discharge of its duties and functions, the Federal Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs only has a responsibility to liaise with the NDDC board in order to avoid duplication wherever their functions overlap. No more no less! It is therefore legally and morally wrong for the minister to inaugurate a committee to oversee the board.”
The Coalition wants President Buhari to act speedily.
The reaction by the coalition is the latest in a series of protests by Niger Delta activists who have questioned the wisdom in having an interim management committee for the NDDC when the substantive governing board has been screened and confirmed by the Senate, which is statutorily empowered to do so on accordance with the NDDC Act.
The national president of the Ijaw Youth Council, Eric Omare has restated its opposition to the committee set up by the minister, calling it a design to distort the forensic probe ordered by President Buhari.
Sources say the interim management committee has been having a hard time convincing stakeholders and residents of the Niger Delta states that it is operating in the best interest of the people. As one activist said: “we cannot have a situation where a minister whose record with the EFCC is well known will be trying to pull a wool over our eyes. Akpabio cannot be above the NDDC law, on which basis the board has been cleared!”
Stakeholders and residents are waiting for President Buhari to direct the inauguration of the new board with clear performance goals for proper accountability.