-By Zik Gbemre,
Without mincing words, I can categorically say that in the entire history of Nigeria’s political leadership, whether military or democratic administration, President Muhammadu Buhari can be said to be the only President/Head of state, whose appalling and distasteful ‘disposition’ and actions, have constantly undermined those who supposedly elected him into Office, as well as when he forcefully took the reins of power as a military Head of State, to oversee the affairs of the nation. Never have Nigerians seen and witnessed such a political leader as President Buhari, who has shown to have no iota of regard to what the majority of the people are saying or thinking about his governance – even when it is clearly seen that all is not well.
Sometimes one is forced to ask what is the difference between President Muhammadu Buhari as a civilian, and President Buhari as a military head of state? This is because there is apparently no difference. As daily, the majority of Nigerians are wondering if we still have a President in our supposed democratic dispensation or not. Because if democracy is a government of the people, by the people and for the people; then there is nothing to pinpoint to suggest so under the President Buhari-led civilian administration. When a President does whatever he likes, without listening to the cries and yearnings of the people he is supposed to govern, then that person is nothing but a dictator who has no intention to see a particular region of the country developed as it should.
These are my thoughts, and I believe the thoughts and mindset of the majority of Nigerians in the South-South of the Niger Delta region, whenever I consider the actions and dispositions of President Buhari concerning the Niger Delta Development Commission (NNDC) and the Federal Ministry of the Niger Delta.
We all know that the creation of the NDDC in the year 2000 by the Olusegun Obasanjo administration, same with the establishment of the Niger Delta Ministry, was primarily to address the developmental gaps and neglect in the Niger Delta region that have been crying of marginalization and underdevelopment, despite being the country’s economic backbone that feeds other sectors and Government activities. President Buhari came in and created more confusion in the already confused NDDC and the Ministry of Niger-Delta with his actions. President Buhari appointed the NDDC Board, and this was approved by the Senate to start work as required by the law. All of a sudden, there was a twist of events in the NDDC and President Buhari handed over the Commission to Godswill Akpabio with his antics as the person-in-charge of the Ministry of the Niger Delta. The question is, if President Buhari had wanted the NDDC to function as it was established to do, he would never have appointed Akpabio to supervise the activities of the NDDC with his ministry of Niger Delta Affairs. This is because it is against the laws setting up the NDDC, and also, who does not know that Akpabio’s records and stewardship as a former Governor and Senator, are under investigation of alleged fraud in his State? Yet, President Buhari felt he is still the right person to supervise the NDDC Board.
The same President Buhari set up an Interim NDDC Board to shortchanged the Board members he had appointed without any wrongdoing by the said NDDC board members, who are yet to resume work till date. Having donated the NDDC to Akpabio and his Ministry of Niger-Delta, the same President Buhari set up a supposed forensic audit to investigate the activities of the NDDC in the last decade. One begins to question why would the President, initiate a very commendable move to investigate the past activities/records of the NDDC, but only to appoint corrupt politicians to be in charge of the NDDC. How on earth will that work and yield the desired results? For me, President Buhari had worsened all the existing problems in the NDDC, by his actions since he came in for his second term. We all know the NDDC already has its financial woes before this administration came on board, but President Buhari, in his second tenure, deliberately donated the NDDC to Akpabio and his ‘loyal boys’ who are ready to kill, to have a field day in feasting on the funds of the commission, which are meant for uplifting the sorry-state of the Niger Delta region.
The same Interim NDDC board that was set up by President Buhari were worse than the old NDDC board members. Yet, President Buhari has refused to listen to the public’s outcry and advice one bit, and even the National Assembly cannot call him to order.
And now again, President Buhari has appointed another interim administrator for the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), which has already elicited a lot of protests by well-meaning South-South of the Niger Deltans, kicking against the said move by Mr. President. As rightly noted by the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), they described the continuous appointment of interim administrators for the NDDC as unfortunate and unacceptable. It lamented that the Federal Government has changed Interim Management Committee (IMC) twice and now an interim administrator in less than two years, saying the NDDC, which was established to facilitate the development of the region had been reduced to a political coliseum. Also reacting to the development, former President of the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP), Ledum Mittee, said it was illegal for President Muhammadu Buhari to keep appointing IMC and sole administrators for NDDC, stressing that the law establishing the commission prescribed a substantive Board and Management Team.
So, the Nigerian public can see that President Buhari is deliberately killing the NDDC, and the desired development of the Niger Delta region for reasons best known to only him. One would have expected President Buhari to have allowed the NDDC Board approved by the Senate to run NDDC instead of all these interim appointments here and there in an acting capacity. Why is President Buhari not listening to those that supposedly elected him into power? Why is he practically snubbing Nigerians over this issue? He was not elected to lead only a few politicians and their selfish interests. He was supposedly elected to see to the interests of the general masses. What is the difficulty in transferring the NDDC to the Office of the Presidency and Secretary to the Federal Government of Nigeria as required by the law setting up the NDDC? And also transfer Akpabio to another Ministry if he wants to still retain him in his administration?
I see no reason why the NDDC Board that was set up by President Buhari will not be inaugurated to start work, as far as they were duly cleared by the Senate. The Niger-Delta elders and people have spoken and presented their cases before President Buhari. But he has refused to listen to anyone. President Buhari should be reminded that the NDDC was not set up for him, but for the people in the Niger-Delta region. And if he has other ulterior motives concerning the NDDC, then he will only be creating more crises and apprehension for the entire country because it is still the oil and gas exploration and production in the region that is still feeding the chunk of the activities of Government at all levels.
It is only a dictator leader that will deliberately refuse to listen to the voice of the people the said leader is supposed to be leading. In this case, the elders and people of the Niger Delta have told President Buhari point blank that they do not want any Interim Committee or administrator of the NDDC. But President Buhari has kept on appointing Interim administrators and what have you. A political leader that only does whatever he likes and not what the people want, has deviated from being a democratically elected president and should be called a dictator.
By Zik Gbemre
December 16, 2020.
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