The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), an agency of the Federal Government was created with the intention to develop the Niger Delta region. However, it has been entangled more in corruption rather than development.
Indeed, the Niger Delta region has not seen development. Instead, it has endured the periodic cankerworms of grand corruption scandals. Instead of establishing much needed infrastructure to ameliorate the sufferings of residents; NDDC officials are scrambling for billions. The children of the area whose resources sustain Nigeria are getting oil in their wells instead of water.
The birth of the NDDC generated a lot of optimism. So optimistic was the mindset then that the 4th Assembly vetoed President Olusegun Obasanjo on the NDDC Act. Indeed, the NDDC Act remains the only legislation to have emerged as law without the signature of the President.
Here is a brief background story.
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Upon the return to democracy in 1999, President Obasanjo’s government sent the NDDC bill to the National Assembly. However, the executive and the legislature disagreed on funding and other fundamentals. Consequently, the President declined assent to the bill. But the 4th House under the-then Speaker, Ghali Na’Abba triggered Section 58(3) of the 1999 constitution.
The Senate also followed the same path. Each chamber at the risk of drawing the ire of President Obasanjo mobilized the needed 2/3 votes and overrode the President.
Hence, the NDDC emerged through bravery and sheer determination to undo over 50 years of injustice and struggle; which the likes of Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight others paid the ultimate price for.
However, despair has since replaced optimism, corruption replaced development. This is the sad story of the NDDC. What a twist!!!
The latest back and forth between the Minister of Niger Delta, Sen Godswill Akpabio and Dr. Gbene Joi Nunieh; the former Managing Director of NDDC is an epoch in a long history of grand theft. The exposé and bombshells dropped by Dr. Nunieh would have been scandal-worthy allegations with dire consequences.
But this is Nigeria.
While briefing newsmen at the National Assembly after appearing before the Senate ad-hoc Committee probing mismanagement of N40billion by the interim management of NDDC in the past one year; Dr. Nunieh accused Akpabio of directing her to implicate Sen Peter Nwaoboshi; the Chairman Senate committee on Niger Delta Affairs. This is the man oversighting Akpabio’s ministry.
In fact, Akpabio is under scrutiny for undertaking alleged N500million NDDC projects. Sen Nwaoboshi accused Akpabio of collecting the contracts back in 2017; but failed to execute the projects. Of course, Akpabio denied collecting the contract.
Akpabio’s response to Dr. Nunieh is absolutely horrific. During an appearance on Arise TV; the former governor of Akwa Ibom brought in the former DG’s marital affairs into the conversation. A clear case of argumentum ad hominem.
“She is very temperamental,’’ he had said. ‘‘You can invite all her four ex-husbands. The four of them, they will tell you about her.”
These distasteful words were uttered by Akpabio. Very disturbing period.
Commendably, President Buhari has ordered a forensic audit into the activities of the NDDC. But sadly, the past 20 years of the Commission has been more about corruption rather than development.