Over the past few months, the Niger Delta Development Commission has come under all forms of orchestrated and savage media and political propaganda, lies and attacks, designed to derail the investigations ordered by President Muhammadu Buhari into its activities in the past 20 years.
These destructive attacks, spearheaded by powerful politicians from the Niger Delta who have been named as complicit in the wanton corruption and carnage in the NDDC, are intended to undermine, sabotage and ultimately scuttle the ongoing forensic audit.
And these attacks, against the Commission and the Interim Management Committee, IMC, established by President Buhari to manage and administer the Commission during this investigation and audit, have continued unabated.
The Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC has received intelligence reports that the Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on NDDC, Hon. Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo and the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, have allegedly concluded plans to release a welter of propaganda against the Commission and its Interim Management Committee, designed to derail efforts to strengthen the NDDC in order to meet its Mandate of the sustainable development of the Niger Delta region.
The Nigerian public should kindly disregard whatever this group intends to, and will, bring out today. The intention is clear and has remained so over the past few months: to raise questions about the integrity and intentions of the IMC in order to undermine the outcome of the forensic audit, as well as aspects of its result already made public which show a sustained and unconscionable looting of the Commission. We wish to reiterate that these attacks are dubious and full of lies.
They are indeed part of efforts to legitimise the wanton depletion of the capacity of the NDDC to meet its Mandate to the Niger Delta region, and serve her long-suffering people. For instance, there are ongoing efforts by Hon. Tunji-Ojo to rationalise the 10 questionable contracts in Ondo State issued to him in recent past and backdated. Those efforts cannot cover the illegality of those awards.
The efforts of co-conspirators and co-travellers in the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs have failed in the past. This will fail as well. The Niger Delta Development Commission urges well-meaning and discerning Nigerians and the entire public to wait for the results of the forensic audit. The revelations in that audit, based on what is being unearthed already, will shake the Niger Delta region, and indeed, all of Nigeria, to its foundations. That is what they are fighting tooth and nail to undermine, sabotage and scuttle.
And this behaviour is at the bottom of the perennial under-performance of the Commission, which necessitated the directive by President Muhammadu Buhari that a forensic audit be instituted to clean the augean stable and restore the integrity of the Commission and its capacity to address the poverty in, and underdevelopment of, the Niger Delta region.
For instance, between Hon. Tunji-Ojo, the Chairman, Senate Committee on the Niger Delta, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi and the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, the money allocated for the Anchor Borrowers Programme of the Federal Government to grow agriculture in the region was reduced from N10 billion to N200m in the 2019 budget. This has effectively undermined that programme, and considering the importance of building regional agriculture, creating jobs and wealth for the people, this cannot be excused.
Also, the money allocated for the partnership between the Commission and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) was reduced from N5bn to N100m, while the money allocated for the three major hospitals in the region was reduced from N5bn to N50m.They were instead transferred to procuring plastic chairs and desks and phony training programmes which they have implemented in the past. The budget is there for all to see, study and investigate.
Since the establishing of the IMC by President Buhari, over 50 cases have been instituted against the Commission, to derail it and its activities, in this very important moment of strengthening and redirection. All the propaganda and lies unleashed in the past have failed and these will fail as well.
Be that as it may, the IMC has decided to ignore them, and their distractions, and move on, with the important task of overseeing the NDDC during its forensic audit, completing and commissioning the headquarters complex on Eastern Bye-Pass, Port Harcourt, as well as completing all regional projects of the Commission. The task of rebuilding the NDDC so that it can meet its obligation and mandate of developing the Niger Delta and improving the living conditions of the people is far too important to be ignored. The people of the Niger Delta region deserve no less.