It is more than two years now since the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, started running without a substantive board. Before now, the expectation had been that a new board would be inaugurated after the report of the forensic auditors must have been submitted.
It is also getting close to a month after the much awaited report was submitted. Yet, neither the minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, nor any other official of the federal has given any clue as to when the new board will assume duties in the commission.
Only recently, some youths from the region made efforts to compel the federal government to respect the Act establishing the NDDC and bring aboard, a legally authorised team to run the NDDC. The youths, under the aegis of the South South Youths Initiative led by Mr Saviour Oscar apparently got tired or frustrated to abandon the protest at the new but uncompleted complex of the NDDC. Buhari and Akpabio must have laughed at them, that they could not sustain the protest.
Apart from the SSYI, other stakeholders from the region had taken similar positions as they urged the federal government to inaugurate a board for the NDDC and end the regime of interim administration which is not known to the NDDC Act.
Some of those who campaigned for the inauguration of the new board even accused Akpabio of having a hidden agenda in the administration of the NDDC. They alleged that Akpabio may be profiting from the continued handling of the affairs of the commission by someone they described as his surrogate.
A former leader of the Ijaw Youths Council, IYC, Mike Wenibowei, in a recent interview accused the president, Muhammadu Buhari and Akpabio of being insincere about progress of the NDDC. His argument is that the federal government ought to have taken actions publicly on the audit report, many weeks after the report was submitted. He had also accused the federal government of failing to make public, contents of the report, because it had a lot to hide and was not willing to expose top government officials, past and present, that may have been indicted by the report.
We agree with all those who have clamoured for the birth of a new board for the NDDC because it is only in doing so that the commission can begin to make progress and serve the interest of all the people of the region in accordance with the spirit and letters of the NDDC Act.
To continue to play politics with the NDDC board inauguration is, to say the least, a disservice to the people of the region who have long waited for a team that would work for them and cause a speedy development of the region. The law establishing the commission never contemplated a regime of sole administratorship. This has to stop.
The senate has since screened and cleared a team for the various board positions in the commission. The least that can be done is the inaugurate them; afterall what the senators did carried a force of the law and should be respected by all those concerned.
We do not think it is right for the federal government to continue to run the NDDC with a sole administrator for a minute longer. To do otherwise is to tell Nigerians and indeed the people of the Niger Delta, that ours is a country administered by lawless officials.