By Blessing Mbonu, Port Harcourt
A Non Governmental Organization, Social Action, has urged that the Forensic Audit report on the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) be made public for the people in the region to know the present state of the Commission.
The group made the call yesterday during a media parley with the focus on “NDDC Audit and Corruption”, held in Port Harcourt.
Speaking at the meeting, Botti Isaac, Programme Coordinator of Social Action, stated that Social Action in conjunction with other civil society groups have resolved to shutdown activities at the headquarters of NDDC by the end of September.
They stressed that Nigerians are interested in knowing the development around the forensic audit of the commission.
They also threatened legal action if the NDDC substantive board is not constituted soon.
According to Botti: “We have been talking with some civil society organisations and I can assure you before the end of September, if the NDDC board has not been constituted, we will take up legal action against the government, particularly the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs and the Presidency to ensure that the rights are done, because they are violating the same Acts that establish the commission.
“On the need for action, we have discovered that sometimes dialogues don’t solve most of these issues, we need to be confrontational. But then in doing that we also need to recognize that there are dynamics and within the context of these dynamics I can assure you that we are planning to take legal action.
“What we intend to say is within the next two weeks if the forensic audit report is not released to the public, if the NDDC budget that was passed in December 2020 is not made a available, if the board is not established, then we are going to mobilize a massive protest to disrupt activities at the NDDC headquarters.
“I assure you that from now to the next two weeks we are monitoring development, we are monitoring event and if it turns out that non of the mentioned is achieved, we are going to form alliance with other groups and ensure that we stage a protest that will paralyse NDDC headquarters for weeks to ensure that we drive home our points”, Botti warned.
Also in his assertion, Mr Sebastian Kpalap, Coordinator, Citizens Voice Initiative, stressed that NDDC is the way it is presently because of the structure, adding that the appointment of a new substantive board is not the total response for the commission.
He said the major challenge faced by the commission is the political inducement, adding that for NDDC to achieve its objective, there is need for experts to handle strategic positions of the Commission.
“The NDDC is the way it is today because of the structure of that Commission. The commission is too political to be able to boost any kind of development for the Niger Delta region.
“The way forward for the commission is for the Law that established the NDDC to be amended and reviewed in such a way that the Commission will be more development focus. The way it is now, is where people go to share money and to racketeer contracts.
“For NDDC to work in the best interest of the Niger Delta people for which it was instituted, that commission will have to be worked. I want to make a specific recommendation that overemphasis on political considerations for the appointment of board members into the NDDC should be discontinuance and the government should be humble enough to bring in development experts to run the NDDC in such a way that it will have a board that will run the Secretariat of the Commission”.