Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, yesterday came under attacks by traditional rulers from the region over his failure to make public the report of the forensic audit into the management of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
The monarchs expressed disappointment that Akpabio failed to fulfill his promises to the region that the report of the forensic audit into the operation of NDDC would be made public on or before July 31, 2021, to pave the way for the inauguration of the substantive board and management of the development agency.
They asked Akpabio to resign or be sacked by President Muhammadu Buhari for failing to deliver on his promises. The monarchs also asked President Buhari to immediately inaugurate the board and management of the commission, screened and confirmed by the Senate in 2019.
Akpabio and The Presidency had on many occasions assured the people of the region that the report of the forensic audit of the NDDC initiated in 2019 would be ready by the end of July 2021.
The royal fathers, who spoke in separate interviews with LEADERSHIP, were unanimous that Akpabio had failed his kinsmen by his failure to fulfill his promises.
When contacted, his media aide, Mr. Jackson Udoh, declined to comment.
The monarchs, who described the much-awaited audit report as a “charade,” said their subjects were tired and frustrated by the failure of the minister to act swiftly on the fate of NDDC.
The Pere of the oil-rich Seimbiri Kingdom, Burutu local government area of Delta State, Charles Ayemi Botu, doubted the readiness of Akpabio to inaugurate the NDDC board, arguing that the delay in releasing the audit report was a ploy to perpetually keep a sole administrator as the manager of the affairs of the commission.
Ayemi-Botu, who is a former chairman of the Traditional Rulers of the Oil Mineral Producing Communities of Nigeria (TROMPCON), said the unending postponement of the submission date of the forensic report indicated that Akpabio was deceiving the people of the region.
Similarly, the Ovie of Idjerhe Kingdom, Ethiope West local government area of Delta State, His Royal Majesty King Obukowho Whiskey, said Akpabio had lost the trust of his kinsmen in the Niger Delta due to his antecedent and his deep involvement in the affairs of NDDC.
The monarch gave three options as a way forward, adding that the NDDC be returned to the Presidency in the same way the North East Development Commission was kept under the management of the Presidency.
He also suggested that the board and management led by a former deputy governor of Edo State, Chief Pius Odubu, screened and confirmed by the Senate, be inaugurated forthwith.
Lastly, he stated that, “Apart from the monthly salary of workers, the Federal Government should stop further allocation to NDDC.”
In the same vein, the Ovie of Agbon Kingdom, Ethiope East local government area of Delta State, HRM Mike Omeru, asked President Buhari to relieve Akpabio of his office. He said Akpabio, by his actions, was making a mockery of democratic tenets.
He said the antics of the minister was unacceptable to his subjects and urged the Senate to reject any new list that might be presented by Akpabio as fresh nominees into the board and management of the agency.