Following the successful completion of its special convention and the emergence of its presidential candidate for the 2023 elections, a group of concerned APC members in the Niger Delta region, has again requested President Muhammadu Buhari and the APC leadership to hearken to authentic stakeholders in the Niger Delta states who have stridently expressed their dismay and frustration over the inexplicable delay to inaugurate the NDDC substantive Board.
In a follow-up letter to President Buhari and the APC National leadership, the APC group, “Committed members of the APC from the Niger Delta Region,” whose letter was signed by the trio of Ebibomo Akpoebide, Menegbo Nwinuamene, and Itam Edem, stated that they are further encouraged to write again to the President and the leadership of APC because they are “reasonably informed that the APC presidential aspirants promised to take-up the matter with you, President Buhari to ensure that the Board (NDDC) is inaugurated expeditiously, aware of the negative impact it will have on our party ahead of the campaigns now that the primaries to elect candidates have been concluded, from State House of Assembly members to the Presidential candidate.”
The APC group further stated that “given the various encounters our presidential aspirants had with party delegates from Akwa Ibom, Abia, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Imo, Ondo, to Rivers states, our party should no longer be in doubt about the mood of the people of the region with regard to their genuine angst towards the Federal Government for the way we have been badly treated by certain elements in the Federal Government who feed fat on the resources of our region.”
The APC group which also thanked President Buhari for “keeping to your words and ensuring that all presidential aspirants were given a fair chance to present themselves to the party’s delegates and be voted for,” also commended the leadership of APC for “ensuring a hitch-free and transparent exercise.” It however noted that it is against the unending calls by Niger Deltans for a halt to the “ongoing illegality in NDDC that we follow-up on our letter last week to you, President Buhari and the leadership of our great party entitled “LETTER TO PRESIDENT BUHARI AND THE APC LEADERSHIP ON THE ONGOING ILLEGALITY IN THE NDDC AND THE IMPLICATIONS FOR THE APC IN THE 2023 ELECTIONS.”
Akpoebide, Nwinuamene, and Edem, reminded President Buhari of the alarm they raised in their earlier letter on the looming consequences of APC’s ill-treatment of the region, especially the ongoing illegality of administering NDDC with a Sole Administrator contraption in violation of the enabling law, the NDDC Act. According to the APC group, “we specifically cautioned that as it stands, the APC cannot win an election in the region except the missteps in NDDC are remedied and the NDDC substantive Board is inaugurated in accordance with the law setting up the Commission.”
The group further quoted Godspower Tamunosusi as speaking the minds of Niger Deltans in an article, “NDDC: Buhari’s Legacy of Illegality and Contempt,” published in many national newspapers, when he stated that “Niger Deltans are very upset with the disdainful manner the region has been treated.” He also noted that there is increasing anger against the APC in the Niger Delta region “as a result of the very poor, biased, illegal and provocative actions of the Federal Government in the handling of matters concerning the NDDC and the Niger Delta region.”
The group also reminded President Buhari and APC leadership that a notable group in the region, The Niger Delta Rescue Movement (NDRM) has already vowed not to back the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2023 elections following the delay to inaugurate a substantive board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC). The spokesman of NRDM, Jonathan Okwa, speaking in Yenagoa, Bayelsa state, stated that following the prolonged delay of President Buhari to give the Niger Delta people what is rightfully theirs, in accordance with the law, the NDDC Act, the group would ensure the mobilisation of the people of Niger Delta region to vote against the APC in the 2023 presidential and general elections if the board is not inaugurated because the actions of Chief Godswill Akpabio, former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, have indeed imperilled our party in the Niger Delta States.
Akpoebide, Nwinuamene, and Edem aligned with other Niger Deltans to remind President Buhari that Niger Delta leaders, governors, youths, women, traditional rulers, civil society organisations, and other stakeholders, have consistently demanded that he should comply with the law setting up NDDC, end the ongoing illegality in the Commission, and inaugurate the substantive board.
The APC group recounted that while receiving the leadership of Ijaw National Congress (INC) in Abuja on June 24, 2021, President Buhari had said that the Board will be inaugurated once the forensic audit report was submitted. According to the President, ‘‘based on the mismanagement that had previously bedeviled the NDDC, a forensic audit was set up and the result is expected by the end of July, 2021. I want to assure you that as soon as the forensic audit report is submitted and accepted, the NDDC Board will be inaugurated.” That report has been submitted to the President since September 2, 2021, yet he has delayed to inaugurate the board.
The Committed APC members also observed that “despite further assurances that the submission of the report would see to the inauguration of the board, it has not ended the delays, manipulations and hijacking of the NDDC by vested interests. This foremost federal government agency set up to right the wrongs in the Niger Delta over the years is still being run by a sole administrator appointed in breach of the NDDC Act.”
The group pointed out that just last week, in an extensive story in a national daily on Saturday, June 4, 2022, entitled “NDDC no longer serves N’Delta interests — PANDEF, monarchs, stakeholders,” a wide spectrum of opinion leaders and authentic stakeholders bemoaned the current deplorable state of the Commission and urged President Buhari to inaugurate the Board that has been screened and confirmed by the Nation’s Senate since November 2019.
The group therefore urged President Buhari to “now reboot and reclaim your affinity and APC’s connection with the Niger Delta people after three years of the former Minister’s disastrous manipulation of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), which has angered all stakeholders in the region, and thereby make amends for the damage done to the APC in the region.”
The group reminded President Buhari that as a leader “who has consistently vowed to be guided by the rule of law, the continued administration of the NDDC by Interim management committee / sole administrator is illegal because the NDDC Act has no provision for this illegality as the NDDC Act only provides that the Board and Management of the NDDC at any point in time should follow the provisions of the law which states that the Board and management is to be appointed by you, the President, subject to confirmation by the Senate. In effect no one is supposed to begin to administer the NDDC and utilise the huge funds accruing to it on a monthly basis without passing through this legal requirement as stipulated in the NDDC Act. Sadly, the situation currently in NDDC which has subsisted for two years is that there is an illegal sole administrator who is both Managing Director, Executive Director of Finance, and Executive Director Projects, in clear breach of NDDC Act which ensures separation of these duties to ensure checks and balances.”
The APC group therefore urged President Buhari “to keep to your promise of June 24, 2021, to end the illegal sole administratorship at the NDDC, inaugurate the NDDC Governing Board in line with the NDDC Act to represent the nine constituent states, and thereby ensure proper corporate governance, accountability, transparency, and probity in managing the Commission.”
According to the group, President Buhari will be “heeding the call of Niger Delta leaders, youths, women, traditional rulers, civil society organisations, and other stakeholders, whose voices you have persistently heard loud and clear on the need to administer NDDC in accordance with the law, the NDDC Act. This, Mr. President, we restate, is the minimum the Federal government and the APC can do to win back the trust of the Niger Delta people and stand a chance to do well in the region, in the forthcoming 2023 general election.”