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Further delay in inauguration of the NDDC board will amount to a betrayal of trust – Prof Okaba

Professor Benjamin Okaba

By Akpos Oghenetega,

The President of Ijaw National Congress INC, Professor Benjamin Okaba, said that any further delay in the inauguration of the NDDC board by the federal government will amount to a betrayal of trust and display of state insensitivity to the plight of the Ijaw nation and Niger Delta region.

The National leader contended that after 16 months of postponement and rigmarole, the Hon Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Chief Godswill Akpabio has finally submitted the long-awaited report of the Forensic Audit on the NDDC two weeks ago through AGF Abubakar Malami to Mr President.

Prof. Okaba lamented that the complexities that trailed the said Audit process, in addition to the diversionary comments of Mr Malami have left us with more worries and suspicion of the true intentions of the exercise.

The upset lNC President, asked rhetorically:  “Why has Mr President till date not said anything about the report and the inauguration of the substantive board, over two years into the life span of his 2nd Term despite public concerns and condemnation on the implications of managing the NDDC as a private estate”

He posited that the INC considers it as a huge integrity test and task on Mr President to immediately submit the Forensic report, undiluted to the corridors of the public domain with the guarantee of free and easy access by anyone that cares, in line with the Freedom of Information Act.

The Ijaw nation he opined is dissatisfied and displeased with the mere mention of figures such as N6trn spent on the NDDC and many others that when weighed and compared with figures from other available benchmarks published earlier by the External auditors and the office of the auditor general, exhibit discrepancies and confusion of data.

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Prof Okaba wondered why there is a deemphasis of over N1.3trn owed the NDDC by the FGN? Why no mention of the hundreds of billions of naira paid to emergency contractors between Jan 2020 and August 2021 while genuine contractors are still owed several billions of naira? Why the passage of the NDDC budget with a provision of N452.2BN in December 2020 when the NDDC had received only 194bn as of that date?

He explained that  Aso Rock needs to allay the fears of relevant Stakeholders and Nigerians in general that the  Akpabio orchestrated NDDC Forensic Audit will not turn out to be another scam or instrument of witch-hunting, intimidating and blackmailing perceived enemies and to further short-change the Ijaw nation.

He demanded the immediate publication of the Audit report with highlights on the achievements, strengths and weaknesses of the NDDC and recommendations going forward. For purpose of transparency and accountability, we also would like to know how much was expended on this audit.

The federal government Okaba said should make the outcome of the forensic audit public including publishing the names of those culpable in the mismanagement of the funds of the NDDC and abandonment of projects over the years.

“The INC frowned at the secrecy with which the outcome of the forensic audit is being handled. The people of the Niger Delta region deserve to know every detail relating to the report of the forensic audit.

“The INC also insists that there should be no cover-up or sacred cows in the implementation of the outcome of the forensic audit.  All the persons culpable irrespective of class, creed and political affiliations should be brought to justice without fear or favour.

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“Going forward, the federal government must stop the practice of using the NDDC as a political patronage agency which is controlled and managed from Abuja instead of the people of the Niger Delta region. The NDDC going forward must be accountable to the people it was created to serve and not those in positions of authority in Aso Rock.”

 

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