Since the public declaration of corrupt malfeasances at the Niger Delta Development Commission, the people of the region have remained mute, astounded and bewildered by the sheer mismanagement, bold corruption and mind boggling issues thrown up.
It is important to thank the Federal Government of Nigeria for envisioning a development commission for the transformation of the Niger Delta after long years of struggle aimed at attracting development to the region and her people.
However, it is now obvious that despite this well thought out decision, some undesirable elements have gained advantage of the vision by helping themselves with the appropriated resources meant for the development of the region and her people.
As unacceptable as this is, it would amount to grand conspiracy if we all engage in cover-up owing to reasons that those involved in these monumental pilfering are our kiths and kins, benefactors and godfathers.
The truth is that the future of the Niger Delta is now badly damaged than the days of the armed struggles just as their leaders have been portrayed as bad managers of their own fortune.
The unfolding scenario between the Minister of the Niger Delta, Godswill Akpabio and the erstwhile Ag. Managing Director, Joy Nunieh is enough to stir a new beginning if the Niger Delta region is headed for real development.
While not minding those involved or who is not, it is crystal clear that the enemies are within and must immediately be purged of their illicit collections against the people.
The restiveness in the Niger Delta which led to the birth of the NDDC is unfortunately abused and the future of the people once again disparaged, obstinately heading to another resurgence. We cannot blame anybody but the bad managers in charge of its affairs.
Astoundingly, those spilling the beans are now subjected to various forms of harassment and indignation by the fraudulent allies of the pilfering hands, sons and daughters of the Niger Delta. The drama at the House of Representatives public hearing yesterday is to say the least disgraceful.
That the Honourable Minister attempted to rub mud in the face of the Honourable members is nothing short of a grand conspiracy to mellow down the probe and discredit the good intention.
The Committee Chairman, Hon. Bunmi Tunji-Ojo recused himself to allow for unhindered probe having sworn to protect the people’s collective wealth. He is not just patriotic by the action but has shown his willingness to help clean the mess. How many such men will take such a decision in the face of flying allegations? He deserves commendation for that singular act and for standing that the probe must continue irrespective of whoever that is involved.
Enough is Enough!
Instructively, Nigerians are in support the ongoing probe of the activities of the NDDC from inception by the National Assembly and all others put in place to clean the Aegean’s stable.
To help in unraveling the mysterious disappearance into private pockets of our collective developmental funds, it is important that Nigerians take a bold step in supporting President Buhari’s resolve at ridding the NDDC of the corruption that has permeated the commission. Every reasonable Nigerian is fully in support of the National Assembly in its ongoing probe.
As a basis of that resolve, the people of the Niger Delta should unveil a clear program of action at ensuring all those involved in any corrupt practice(s) against the Niger Delta region are brought to book and looted funds returned to the coffers of the commission.
Let me appeal to the President and C-in-C, Muhamadu Buhari, GCFR to consider suspending all those mentioned in the corrupt allegations at the executive tier of government to allow for unhindered probe of the activities of the NDDC.
If Nigeria must be seen as upright, the right time is now for the Presidency and the Anti-graft agencies to do a clinical cleansing of the NDDC for the benefit of the people that the few assigned corrupt administrators have impoverished.
There can be no better time than NOW.
If we must be taken serious as a nation, the revelations of mindless spending at the NDDC must be a concern. How do we explain the billions spent not on development but on COVID 19 within 3 months without commensurate benefit to the people? How do we explain that NDDC has spent more than the Presidential Task Force and the NCDC set up to combat and contain the pandemic.
How do we explain that simple administrative functions were personalised just to enrich individuals?
How do we explain that same contracts were awarded to different people and monies paid?
How do we explain that development was relegated to service the purse of looters? How do we explain that even during global lockdown, Diaspora students’ welfare fund found its way into private pockets of staff members?
How do we explain purchase of face masks around #500m that was not distributed to the people to observe safety measures?
How do we explain media consultancy outsourcing paid for and trainings overseas during lockdown?
The concerned Youths and Students of Niger Delta haven observed, heard, seen the rot should stand up to rescue the people of the Niger Delta through a massive support for the ongoing probe.
They should mount a moral campaign that seek to investigate, prosecute all those involved in the criminal diversion of allocations to the NDDC which are meant for the development of the region and protect those revealing the corruption in the NDDC from the wicked looters.
Since the position of the law is unambiguous and no one is above it, nobody however highly connected should be allowed to play pranks with the destiny of the Niger Delta people.
The youths whose future are daily traded should severe whatever affiliation they share with those mismanaging, stealing and looting their collective patrimony forthwith pending issuance of clean bill against those already alleged of corruption.
Henceforth, all NDDC offices should become homes to sane people who desire that the wrongs be righted till they are satisfied that all who stole from them have accounted for such and punished according to the laws of the land.
Kolawole Abe is a human right activist and former PRO of NANS