By Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, South-South & Sam Oyadongha
THE Interim Administrator/ Chief Executive Officer, CEO, Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Mr Effiong Akwa, is only a caretaker at the interventionist agency and would handover to a new governing board after the ongoing forensic audit, his Media Adviser, Olorogun Jaro Egbo, has said.
Egbo, dousing rising tension over non-inauguration of NDDC governing board screened and confirmed by the Senate, October, last year, said: “He (Akwa) believes he is a caretaker, who will hand over to a new board once the forensic audit is completed.”
He said those stoking tension in the region were powerful persons feeding fat on the system, who were angry that the Interim Administrator has blocked leakages.
He said, “Let me tell you, no contract has been awarded by the interim administrator or the management team. The budget has just been released and the interim administrator insisted that any contract or project contained in the approved budget must pass through due process, which is that the project must be published for bids and only those qualified will be awarded projects. I am sure it is this insistence on due process that is leading to renewed tension.
“I want to use this medium to appeal to our beloved South- South governors and stakeholders for understanding so that the forensic audit is completed before a new board takeovers so that the audit can be acted upon by the new board.”
Stakeholders, however, counteracted NDDC with the Udurhie I, Ovie of Idjerhe Kingdom, Delta State, HRM O. Whiskey, saying in a letter to President Muhammadu Buhari that the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, was the one causing tension in the region with the manner he was running NDDC as a personal estate.
Convener, South-South Reawakening Group, SSRG, Joseph Ambakederimo, said that tension was escalating to a boiling point due to the continuous running of NDDC with interim managements, rather than governing board authorized by the Act setting up the commission. HRM Whiskey, who endorsed South-South governors’ stance that President Buhari should escrow all funds to NDDC, except salaries and running costs, until NDDC’s governing board was inaugurated, said: “Your Excellency, if the truth must be told and as royal father, I cannot run away from the fact that Obong Akpabio has dangerously crossed the rubicon and needed to be urgently called to order as his recent escapades and unguided utterances against critical stakeholders like the governors and royal fathers are nothing, but buying more trouble in the already tensed region like the Niger Delta.
“Since September 2019, when the Minister of the Federal Ministry viciously took over the mantle of controllership of the regional interventionist agency, the NDDC, he has left nobody in doubt as to his mission and vision to make the agency his personal estate.
SSRG convener, Ambakederimo, told Vanguard: “The tension is reaching a boiling point and the earlier the President reigns in Akpabio, the better for everyone.”
“We are in support of the statement by the South- South Governor’s Forum on the shenanigan that has festered in the NDDC for quite a while largely due to the meddlesomeness and the obsession of the Minister of Niger- Delta.
“We have observed long ago that the obsession on the part of the minister is never altruistic in the first place but only a scheme to corner the resources that belong to the people of the region to himself. Even if the position of the governors is coming a bit late, we still commend their resolve to speak on this matter and on behalf of their people who depend on the NDDC for their survival and on whose back the NDDC came to being.”