Niger Delta

NDDC, Niger Delta Leaders And The Corruption Stigma

By Substance Nature-Udo


The recent disclosure by President Muhammadu Buhari that over N3.7 billion and other assets have been recovered from former directors and contractors of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) may not really have shocked Nigerians. We are – or should be – used to such things. It may only have come as a shock considering the sanctimony with which those so indicted came into their various offices with tall promises to turn things around.


The President dropped the bomb while inaugurating the NDDC Advisory Committee at the Executive Chambers of the State House, Abuja, Tuesday, March 10, 2020.


A statement to that effect by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, also highlighted that assets worth more than N6 billion have been placed on lien under government agencies. “To date, the EFCC and other agencies of government have recovered over N3.7 billion in cash as well as naira from some contractors and former directors of the Commission.


Furthermore, I am told that government agencies have placed liens on over N6 billion of assets which are being investigated”, the release stated.


This discovery, according to the President, necessitated the need for close monitoring and oversight as we move forward, hence the newly launched Advisory Committee, comprising governors of the nine Niger Delta States of Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Edo, Imo, Delta, Ondo and Rivers.


RELATED: Latest Development In NDDC: Is Sen. Akpabio As ‘Guilty’ As Assumed?


That the President chose these advisers all from NDDC core benefitting states is an indirect way of the President washing his hands off the financial coronavirus that has ravaged this oil-rich zone for years. It means the President tactically placing on the shoulders of the governors the burden of calling their brothers to order, both in secret and in the public if need be, against the generational, transmissible anti-development disease that has battered the corporate destiny of the Niger Delta.


Latest discoveries and yet-to-be discovered cumulative fraud in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) have, by and large, already gave whoever had served or is currently serving in that commission a bad image, thus automatically leaving them in a watch list. Of course, about 99.5 percent of those who have served in strategic positions in the NDDC since its birth in 2000 had been cerebral indigenes of the Niger Delta.


This easily implies that, apart from a few outsiders they have conspired with perhaps through contract inflation, dealings with fictitious firms, and other hanky-panky engagements, the problem of the commission is squarely –or largely – that of gross and chronic mismanagement of resources by those who were supposed to be pillars and drivers of its interest for the greater good of the greater majority.


Yet, if we go by the bleak projections of the EFCC, it means that there is still much to fear or expect from the stinking labyrinth of corruption that has been built in the last 19 years. The anti-graft agency has promised, as it is used to, to beam its searchlight on the NDDC to completely sanitize and quarantine it from the contagious kleptomania that has been the bane of development in the region.


During a radio programme in Port Harcourt last week, EFCC’s Zonal Head, Usman Imam, stated: “We are looking into the activities of the NDDC. We have received petitions on projects that have been paid for but not executed. We are going to look into these petitions to ensure that the people get value for monies released to the NDDC and, that those who stole from the agency are dealt with in accordance with the law”.


To the extent that shall be possible, we must forgive Nigerians who might choose to take EFCC’s threatening promise with a pinch of salt in a precarious climate characterised by selective justice. Parts of the earliest disclosures by the Interim Management Committee were allegations of a senator or senators having gotten sizeable opportunistic slices from the NDDC’s cake. But that matter appears to have ended in the dumpster.


On assumption of duty on August 21, 2019, the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Sen. Godswill Akpabio, had metaphorically described the NDDC as an ATM, hence the introduction of the dreaded and dreadful forensic audit. It is obvious that we reach this point of discoveries because of the audit of the commission covering 2001 to 2019, as ordered by the President in 2019.


Ironically, Dr. Joi Nunieh, former acting MD of the Interim Management Committee (IMC), who was to spearhead proceedings, became a victim of what she promised to fight against.


We cannot remember with confidence how many past indigenous MDs of the NDDC left office stainless. Unless the Presidential Advisory Committee (PAC) of aboriginal governors stick to the gun and eschew the usual sentiments and politics Niger Delta is obsessed with and known for in this regards, fears are that the scourge of mismanaged opportunities might still remain to haunt the entire region in ways that may be worse than what it is presently.


Will the governors be bold and smart enough to reverse the trend through their advisory? It should matter to them than it should bother the President.

Related Articles

Back to top button