By Basil Okoh
Since the creation of the Interim Management Committee (IMC) to replace the Management Board of the NDDC, all the devils in hell have been let loose on the Oil Rivers, otherwise called the Niger Delta. The resulting gang fight has engulfed the region in a war of attrition six months into the inauguration of the IMC.
The secrets of the beehive are about to be revealed and the angry bees feeding from the Honeywell are on the attack, stinging everyone who come in close sight.
The Nigerian media has been inundated with farcical tales as told by many idiots who want to twist and befuddle the true story and present the lies as the truth and the hunters as the hunted.
The IMC who have been charged with hunting down the bad guys have themselves been presented as the bad guys. Forces opposed to the probe of the financial dealings of the NDDC have taken the bold initiative and presented themselves as the oppressed victims, enlisting the purchased Nigerian media as allies. The lyrics of their songs go as follows:
- The IMC is not a legal creation and it’s takeover of the running of the NDDC grossly violates the laws setting up the Development Commission.
- The accounting agencies appointed to do a forensic audit of the transactions of the agency since inception is an illegality since they were not nominated by legally appointed NDDC board.
- It is gross interference by the Federal Government to appoint an IMC without legislation by the National Assembly and without consultation with the people of the Niger Delta, the true owners of the Agency.
The contrived angst against the IMC are many but all are designed to befuddle the issues of fiduciary reckoning in NDDC, discredit the process of audit and render any reports and findings nurgative. The rot facing the Agency must go on and the status quo anté must subsist, they insist.
As is now clear from proceedings, the Federal Government is not ready to concede to the blackmail of the contractors to the NDDC and is proceeding earnestly with the audit.
The contractors and the entrenched interests have now all moved to a different strategy. They have resorted to a media fist fight with the members of the IMC to destroy their individual credibility’s and the credibility of the process and possible outcome of the audit.
It is an old trick. Attack the messenger to destroy the resonance of his message. The personalities of members of the IMC are now on the line of attack. Not just their personalities are under attack but also their past and future prospects. Sex was added to the mix to further muddy the water and make the tale more salacious. Now the Nigerian population out of it’s love for the banal and salacious has been sucked in to fall for the trick, confusing the messenger with the message.
The IMC must stay on its own message and not allow themselves to be confused by the accompanying noise. The audit is the message. The IMC are mere Messengers.
Now the National Assembly out of a frightened sense of guilt and foreboding, has set up its own counter inquisition to further muddy the water and deflect from the real purpose of the audit. It is not to seek the truth in the macabre conundrum in NDDC but to throw oil in the burning fire and ensure that no truth emerges from any audit.
And Nigerians are applauding, led by the media that has been purchased by the same contractors whose devious conduct necessitated the probe in the first place.
The contractors which include in their list of shame, the National Assembly as a body and individual members as worst offenders, have enlisted the services of the Nigerian media, ever ready to be bought on the cheap and without investigative skills or patriotism, to becloud the issues of audit and focus on the salacious and the misconduct of members of the IMC, forgetting the original purpose of the probe.
And we ask, why waste so much energy on N81 billion of current spending when the audit of over N3 Trillion is waiting to be served? Another team must succeed the present IMC, why not wait for their own audit report? Why confuse the audit of past Management’s with the probe of the present management team. Why not allow the team to finish it’s work before calling for a probe? The answer to all these questions is because the intent is to muddle up the issues and discredit the forensic audit.
The National Assembly is an interested and guilty party in the pillage of the NDDC. The National Assembly remains guilty of contributing to the mess in NDDC by continually asking for contracts and gratifications before approval of budgets.
As a body, the National Assembly sways contracts to it’s members while also extorting ransom from the agency before approving their budgets. This is the reason for setting up it’s own probe of the IMC. It was not for any altruistic reasons or for a desire to expose the rot that has undermined the NDDC from performing it’s statutory functions. Let the Nigerian public not be deceived or deflected from seeking the reform of the NDDC.
The people of the Oil Rivers will want to ask where the PANDEF has been in all of these grandstanding in NDDC and why the organization has been AWOL and has not intervened to bring back order to NDDC. The reason is that most members of PANDEF are themselves embroiled in the plunder going on at NDDC.
PANDEF was conceived and operates as an elite body, an unelected regional hegemon, paternalistic in it’s attitude to the affairs of the Oil Rivers and supervening in the allocation of benefits to the states and ethnic groups in the region.
Without election and representation from the ethnicities, PANDEF assumed overlordship over the region, its members using their membership to seek contracts and undue entitlements from the NDDC. They are wound up in the conundrum that has engulfed the agency and also deeply involved in the false messaging eroding the credibility of the IMC and audit of the NDDC.
The contractors and the National Assembly are creating the impression that it is the Interim Management Committee (IMC) that is under probe by the Federal Government. They are forcefully, by their actions and the assistance of the Nigerian Media pushing an alternate storyline and a false narrative. The IMC is not under probe by anyone. The IMC are the ones auditing the accounts and probing the affairs of the previous Managements of the NDDC.
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The invitation of the IMC of the NDDC to appear before any committee of the National Assembly does not constitute a probe by the National Assembly.
The National Assembly with its claws and teeth sunk deep in the flesh and blood and the treasury of the NDDC and being complicit in the creation and upholding of the Charnel House must be without shame to start any kind of probe of the agency.
The Minister of the Niger Delta Affairs, Mr. Godswill Akpabio explicitly said so in the short interview at the Senate Chambers before the microphones were shut down and he was asked out.
The naming and shaming of members of the National Assembly, particularly Senator Peter Nwaoboshi for his role in the plunder of the contracts due to Delta North in the NDDC must be seen to be done. The Senate and House of Representatives of the Republic must find it necessary to institute an investigative panel to investigate the allegations of their members involvement in the plunder of an agency of Government and bring the erring members involved to justice.
Cairo Ojougboh may be irreverent and prickly but he operates with an absolute lack of fear and so cannot be intimidated. Cairo is the man most suited to take on the cartel dominating proceedings at NDDC, not because he is pure himself but because he has a sense of purpose which thrives in the particular challenge and circumstance which exist now in NDDC. He cannot be dissuaded or browbeaten out of the cause. He knows how to win his wars.
It is pretty certain that he relishes the present state of flux in NDDC because Cairo Ojougboh thrives in such contrived dissonance that the National Assembly and the contractors are creating. Godswill Akpabio and Cairo Ojougboh will not be intimidated by the straw men at the National Assembly. Both of them have been there and know the terrain.
So if their traducers believe that these men will cave in to pressure or “faint” during a public questioning, they must have another think, for it appears these men are not made for turning.
Okoh writes from Lagos and can be reach @basilokoh on Twitter.