Niger Delta

NDDC Board: How Long Shall The Commission Be Held To Ransom?

By Substance Nature-Udoh


“The trouble with Nigeria is simply and squarely a failure of leadership”, Chinua Achebe

What has been going on in the country in the last one or two months, especially in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), is scarcely surprising to those who have been around and have been following leadership patterns in our corporate national existence. It is part of the ever unfolding episodes of the theatre of the absurd that many have likened the country to.

It is however worrisome and a textbook proof of why late literary icon, Chinua Achebe, in his lampoon creatively places the country’s pathological and enduring problem “simply” and “squarely” at the doorstep of leadership. In the very first sentence in his novella titled, The Trouble With Nigeria, the inimitable wordsmith bravely submits: “The problem with Nigeria is simply and squarely a failure of leadership. There is nothing basically wrong with the Nigerian character. The Nigerian problem is the unwillingness or inability of its leaders to rise to the responsibility, to the challenges of personal example which are the hallmarks of true leadership”.

Counting from when the problem presumably started, from the moments it fell from the grapevine that the NDDC was to undergo a forensic audit, to that Tuesday of October 26, 2019 when the Senate confirmed receipt from the Presidency of the list of nominees for the new board of the NDDC and mandated the House Committee on NDDC to scrutinize the details and report back, the same day and date and time about which the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs (MNDA), Senator Godswill Akpabio, also launched a parallel body in the name of Interim Management Committee (IMC) which came with waves of disagreements in the corridor of power, to this very minute that they are still struggling over who should be in the control-room of the NDDC, approximately three full months of 90 days must have been wasted on this arguments.

On Tuesday, November 5, 2019, the Senate had held a plenary to act on the report of the Peter Nwaoboshi led Committee. There, Senator Peter Nwabaoshi (Delta), Head, House Committee on Niger Delta Development Commission, told the House that only 15 passed through the crucible because Dr. Joy Yimebe Nunieh (Rivers) turned down the invitation on two days and therefore was stood down, a position the whole House unanimously endorsed while the 15 cleared were confirmed.

In the thinking of the Senate, it was now left for President Buhari to inaugurate the board upon which his letter had requested. That would automatically have dissolved the IMC. But the President delayed and refused to inaugurate the board. Nor would he offer any overt or official explanations. Meanwhile, Akpabio’s Interim Management Committee, comprising Acting Managing Director, Dr, Joy Nunieh (Rivers), Acting Executive Director, Projects, Dr, Cairo Ojougbor (Delta); and Acting Executive Director, Finance/Administration, Chief Ibanga Bassey Etang, have been going about their assignments, in total rebuff of Senate’s indifference.

Holding tight to the laws governing the establishment of the NDDC, which recognizes only a properly constituted board, the Senate refused and is still refusing to recognize the IMC irrespective of the intrigues of its sudden birth and whoever were involved in the processes. The House of Representatives also declined dealings with the accursed child that the IMC is seen to be.

More fuel was added to the fire when on Tuesday, November 26, 2019, President Buhari again forwarded a letter to the Senate requesting appraisal and passage of the 2019/2020 NDDC Budget. The Senate without a slice of pretensions spat on the request, arguing and insisting that it can only deal with the 15-man NDDC board it had duly screened and confirmed, even as Akpabio’s Interim Management Committee had been dismissed as a conspiratorial contraption that assaulted the law.

The burning issue now is that the 2019/2020 budget of the NDDC is still pending since President Buhari had not inaugurated a board that, according to the National Assembly, legally would have been responsible for that; nor has the President dissolved the IMC. So when will the budget that is expected to propel action in the Commission be signed? Those in power, it must be admitted, are already causing enough problems for the NDDC, against their peacorky theatrics of concerns. So, whether they operate in the open or behind the screen, there are now three open-face parties at hindrance to the NDDC and contention for the power buttons – President Buhari, the Senate, and Sen. Akpabio at whose mercies and intrigues the NDDC board and the IMC exist.

Against claims and counter-claims, it is now clearer that there is something amiss in this drama of grandstanding and sectarian power intrigues. There are special interests each of the contending parties are trying to protect, but which directly or indirectly are worsening the case of NDDC. Akpabio had argued that the essence of the IMC was to establish and guarantee probity, accountability and transparency. To his critics on the other hand, the IMC is a fabricated cover-up machinery. How to pacify or dislodge these power-hungry and power-holding cabals in NDDC so that the embattled Commission may be able to pick up its broken bones and wobble along as usual remains the issue.

This is perhaps the worst beginning in memorable time for any minister that has served in the Ministry of Niger Delta since 2000. Akpabio therefore should expect and prepare to attack relentless, or be attacked inexorably, or the opponents “hacked” him triumphantly in advancement of the arguments.
That is because Nigeria is not where leaders easily forgo things of pecuniary throwbacks with abandon or capitulate in sincerity or genuinely forgive opponents in power games that are sustained by politics.

Without any intention to sound pessimistic, because this is the Nigeria we know, now that the problem has started, or rather now that the evil seed has been sown, these machinations and collusion may remain a recurrent feature for as unpredictably long or short as Akpabio shall serve. This may be the biggest of the challenges he will have to face throughout his stewardship as a minister.

This incidentally brings us back to Achebe’s literary diagnosis and endnote prognostications. Taciturn and chronically straightforward, the literary paterfamilias wanted the world to know that Nigeria’s political ideologies are rooted in “pious materialistic wooliness and self-centred pedestrianism”.

Sen. Akpabio himself was quick to see and admit this in one of his inaugural speeches at the head office of the NDDC in Port Harcourt: “We have also had a lot of political interference. People have not allowed NDDC to work as it ought to; people coming with ideas not to move the region forward but to move their pockets forward. It has always been so”, he had cried out.

Will those whose interests Akpabio may be trying to protect stand with him to the very end or become the weakest link on the already strained chain of conspiracies? Will those whose secrets his steps already have unfaced give away the store without holding him down? What game plan may typical Nigerian power-mongers have for the Uncommon Transformer? Only time shall tell!

Related Articles

Back to top button