By Jesutega Onokpasa
In the wake of the intervention by Government Ekpemupolo, aka Tompolo, to bring to a long overdue stop, the shameful shenanigans Niger Deltan Affairs Minister, Godswill Akpabio has been machinating at the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, rather perplexing calls for the commission’s board “to be constituted” this way or, “reconstituted” that way have been shouted over the rooftops by all manner of interest groups. Yet, if one may ask, which board and, of which commission is supposed to be “constituted” or indeed, “reconstituted” for that matter?
The notion that the NDDC currently lacks a substantive board is a dastardly lie from the pit of hell itself and could only possibly ring true in a clime like ours where the peddling and sustenance of diabolical falsehoods has bizarrely claimed centrestage as some sort of national ethos. The NDDC already has a substantive board constituted by no less an authority than the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Federal Republic and duly screened and confirmed by no less an authority than the Senate of that same republic!
That board which, but for Akpabio’s abracadabra would be running the commission, is, even at this moment and, as a matter of the supremacy of the rule of law, the one and only lawful authority to preside over the commission and cannot be legally superceded by any extralegal expedient whatsoever, much less one whose sole logic is to further perpetuate Akpabio’s entirely discredited stranglehold over the NDDC!
I had long predicted that it might require at least something in the nature of a threat to the fragile peace only the grace of God has sustained thus far in the Niger Delta to spur those who had kidnapped the NDDC from its Niger Deltan owners to come to their senses and let go. It is most unfortunate they had to wait for Tompolo whom they once treated like an outlaw to thunder before following the law.
Unfortunately, these banana republic antics on the part of a federal government already handicapped by a colosal deficit of trust from the people of the region can only serve to reinforce the conviction that without violence or at any rate, its threat, the Niger Deltans should never expect justice within the Nigerian conundrum.
At a time of mounting nationwide insecurities, ever deepening divisions and quite unsettling sabre rattling from all points of the Nigerian compass, it is exceeding rascality for anyone to undercut what precious little sense of oneness that still subsists amongst us by reiterating the notion that we are, in fact, in a hopelessly flawed forced marriage there is little point in further sustaining.
It is even more condemnable when such heinousness emanates from the topmost echelons of government all because some money grubbing character and his kleptomanic collaborators decided to pocket the common property of all Niger Deltans under the smokescreen of an eternal forensic audit!
Those the gods wish to destroy, they first make mad. Obviously stranded and seemingly without further means to perpetuate his imperial reign over the coffers of the NDDC, Godswill Akpabio now seems determined to perpetrate the executive abomination of reconstituting a board our President, his boss, had already constituted!
Not satisfied with doing the unthinkable by supervising his principal and superintending the Presidency, he then apparently aims to insult the Senate of the Federal Republic all over again by presenting before it a new list of nominees for a board they had already screened, confirmed and asked him time and again to inaugurate!
What a profusely progressive angle to governance, one might be tempted to think!
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Having for all intents and purposes settled immovably into his penchant for surrounding himself with and, then surrendering himself to the most pitiably unimaginative, pathetically incompetent, and, hideously questionable characters for aides, we are constrained to be stuck with a President who is supposedly as clean as Pope Francis, yet clearly under whose watch, or, lack thereof and, apparently in accordance with whose body language, his underlings are mindlessly yet, quite gleefully ripping our country apart.
It is really of no moment if Akpabio continues to subvert the constitution or disdain the law; he has no credibility worth the name and, in any case, indeed whether Mr. President realises it or not, Minister Godswill Akpabio’s transgressions will all eventually be accounted to President Muhammadu Buhari.
It should be quite a different matter altogether if our President, himself, should then fly entirely off the handle, brazenly assault the constitution and, shamelessly break the law by purporting to reconstitute the NDDC board and proceed to send a new list to the Senate but I doubt there are that many Nigerians left who would be surprised.
Needless to say, it would amount to a most egregious constitutional abomination for the Senate, of all authorities, to undermine and embarrass itself by repudiating its own work and considering any new list of fresh nominees, having already duly and honourable concluded that process more than a year ago!
There is already a substantive board of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, indeed one constituted by the President and confirmed by the Senate and, short of the entire board resigning even before it has been inaugurated, or, its entire membership kicking the bucket overnight, there is simply no lawful means for reconstituting that already existing board or, much like a bunch of kindergarten kids with no knowledge of the law, simply pretending it doesn’t exist and constituting a fresh board.
I would suppose Akpabio is still a lawyer; after all, once a lawyer, always a lawyer. If he happens to have forgotten his law, there are those of us who clearly remember ours. The legal mechanisms for constituting or reconstituting a board for the NDDC while a substantive board is pending are not available because they simply do not exist in the first place. In other words, there is no lawful recourse for the President in the present circumstance to “constitute” or “reconstitute”, contrary to what Akpabio is shamefully misguiding him to believe.
In short, there is no board to be constituted or reconstituted; rather there is an already constituted, screened and confirmed board waiting to be inaugurated.
There should be no further tolerance for any more subterfuges to delay the lawful management of the NDDC and extend the forensic looting of the commonwealth of the Niger Deltan people. There is already a substantive board of the commission in-waiting and it should be inaugurated first thing tomorrow morning.
Jesutega Onokpasa ,