NIGERIA ON BENDED KNEES – NDDC AND THE DEARTH OF INTEGRITY AND TRUST

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Do you agree that corruption in Nigeria is like a cancerous wound; the more one tries to treat it, the more it aggravates? Is there any government sector in Nigeria that is free from corruption saga?  

No sooner had I dropped my pen having taken us through the trajectory of the travails of all EFCC chairs, titled, “WHEN THE HUNTER IS HUNTED,” than we are once again faced with the scandal of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

NDDC was established for what I would describe as a surface aim of developing the rich Niger Delta oil regions. But whose inner purpose was to develop a few elites from the regions to the detriment of the numerous masses. This is because, from all the major appointments since its inception till date, we have only seen people who went there poor and came out rich. Rich and came out richer. While the regions remain in the dark shadows of hell.

If my position is not the case, why has the regions and lives of the masses not improved tremendously since the Commission was established? Or is it the massive thefts in the guise of roads infrastructure, the ongoing purgatory of the youths on studies abroad? Why is the Commission still on rent, with annual wastage of a whopping 200million naira, despite the billions ceded every year to it? Why do people fight dirty to become key actors in the Commission?

But thanks to Joy Nunieh, the erstwhile manager of the Commission, who recently decided to spread the dirty linens in the public. Thanks to her for bringing the naked dance into the public domain. Many have however criticized her for her bold and courageous action, by calling her names.

The truth is that she may not be totally free from some counter accusations for taking the bull by the horn. This is because as a human, she is finite, with her own limitations. But until the court which Godswill Akpabio the main accused threatens to resort to, decides otherwise, that is, if the court is judged objective. But in the meantime, there is every reason to believe, if not all, most of her allegations. More so, in every lies there may be some elements of truth. We do hope the court will be objective, and may not play into the hands of our desperate politicians to sell the truth if eventually they both resort to court.

Meanwhile, sitting before NDDC probe committee on July 20th, Akpabio nearly made a fool of himself, when he accused lawmakers of taking most of NDDC contracts, but later withdrew some of his statements.

There was equally a mild drama when the acting managing director, Prof Kemebradikumo Daniel Pondei, slumped briefly before the probe panel. He had earlier on July 16th, walked out on the probe committee, while accusing the chairman of the committee, Olubumi Tunji-Ojo as a judge in his own case.

Some Nigerians have however described the slumped incident, as a way to divert attention. Whatever be the case, we wish him a speedy recovery.

However, Nigerians are waiting for the House of Representatives, and the Senate to refute the weighty accusation against them. But with such a weighty accusation, don’t you think the lawmakers are judges in their own case?

In any case, why was NDDC established? And why the recent public dance?  NDDC was established on June 5th, 2000 during Chief Olusegun Obasanjo’s tenure, barely a year after Nigeria returned to democracy. The aim was “to develop the oil rich Niger Delta regions of Nigeria. Among other reasons, the Commission was set up to train and educate the youths of the oil rich regions to end hostilities and militancy why focusing on the development of major infrastructures to promote diversification, and productivity”(“NDDC,” https://en.m.wikipedia.org). The regions include Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Imo, Ondo, and Rivers.

During Umar Musa Yar’Adua’s tenure, precisely in September 2008, the formation of a Niger Delta ministry was announced, and NDDC was made a parastatal under the ministry, so that it can oversee the Commission (cf. “Yar’Adua Creates Ministry of Niger Delta, by Juliana Taiwo, September 11th, 2008).

From the foregoing, let us look at the recent happenings in the Commission which became subservient to the ministry for the purpose of transparency, accountability, and positive results. But whose shameless dance has entered the public space.

In an interview with news men and women recently, the former managing director of the Commission, Joy Nunieh alleged that the minister of Niger Delta, Godswill Akpabio, was the brain behind her remover. An allegation which Akpabio did not deny, but in response said that she was removed because of  insubordination, and not corruption. Does this not indicate that Nunieh has the right to accuse the Commission of corruption?

Going further in her allegations, she told journalists, “Nobody makes any payment to NDDC without Godswill Akpabio’s approval. When we first came, on the day of the inauguration, he said to me in the car; madam MD, if you don’t do what I say, the same pen with which I used to sign your papers is the same pen I will use to remove you…” (“NDDC: Former MD, Joy Nunieh Makes Damming Revelations About Buhari’s Minister Akpabio,”by John Owen Nwachckwu, Daily Post, July 11th, 2020).

Not long, she was removed. According to her, she was removed because she refused to indulge in illicit sexual activities, and to cooperate in further milking the regions as requested by Akpabio.

On his part, Akpabio has so far responded to the damming allegations, with a threat to take legal actions against her for defamation of character. But Nunieh seems undaunted by his threat. Both are lawyers, and may hopefully settle their scores in a competent court of law.

But with all that have trailed the Commission since its establishment, it is easier to guess that the Commission was established to shift the attention of the raging youths, and impoverished masses to continue to milk the oil dry for selfish gains.

This dirty fight shows that every politics is local. But in this case, not for the good of the locals, but for selfish interests.

When one gets appointment into any political position, people ask to know where he/she comes from. Where the person comes from matters to those in the same region because they believe something positive may come their region.

NDDC chair and, other major positions have been rotational among the regions. But sadly, the failure on the sides of the chairs, and other appointees to better the fortune of the people, is a proof that one’s real enemy is very often from within. Because, it is the rat in the house that tells the ones outside that there is a feast at home.

To whom shall the stranded students of NDDC abroad cry to? To whom shall the people of Niger Delta regions cry to, when their very problem is their sons, and daughters? What hope lies in wait for a better Niger Delta regions that pride themselves as the wealth of the nations with little or nothing to show for it?

What a public shame!

#SayNoToCorruption

#SaveTheSoulsOfNigerDeltaRegions

#SaveNigerDeltaRegions

Israel GodsPower ANAWEOKHAI, MSP

July 20th, 2020

Israel GodsPower ANAWEOKHAI is a Catholic Priest of the Missionary Society of St Paul. He is currently on mission in the Archdiocese of Douala, Cameroon.

 

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