By Jesutega Onokpasa
News that the Senate of the Federal Republic had resolved to investigate the Interim Management Committee, IMC, of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, brought a great sigh of relief to stakeholders across the Niger Deltan region who have been dazed by the humongous degree of corruption and irregularities that have reigned over the commission ever since the illegal contraption championed by the Niger Delta Affairs Minister, Senator Godswill Akpabio, took over the interventionist agency.
Hitherto, it had been a most perplexing mystery to many of us how come our national legislature and more especially its upper chamber had seemingly gone to sleep with respect to a crucial agency of government charged with the development of a potentially explosive region which also doubles as the goose that lays the golden eggs for the entire nation. Indeed, ever since Akpabio executed his extra-ministerial coup of scuttling the institution of the commission’s lawfully envisaged board that had been duly screened and confirmed by the Upper House, and instead installed his handpicked illegal IMC of wholly incredible characters, it appeared he had been afforded license to personalise the collective property of the Niger Deltan people and handed a blank cheque to deplete its resources for the benefit of himself and those through whom he keeps getting all manner of highly infuriating extra-constitutional approvals from the seat of power in far away Abuja.
I can at this moment project that Akpabio, lacking any regard for law, due process or even for his former colleagues in the Senate, will proceed to attempt to intimidate the Senators into making a mess of the process by resorting to his broken record of very poorly-packaged recriminations that they are opposed to the much touted but never occuring forensic audit of the commission, hence they are investigating his minions! Indeed, day in, day out, his laughable IMC spares no opportunity to label anyone calling for probity and transparency in the NDDC as a contractor or corrupt individual afraid of what is already turning out to be a complete joke of a forensic audit!
The irony pertaining to the entire circus is the fact that no serious minded Niger Deltan takes Akpabio or his cabalistic IMC seriously at all. None of its members has ever been known to be an anti-corruption crusader or champion of good governance and in fact, one of its very vocal, loquacious and most unwarrantedly bellicose members used to be a board member at NEXIM Bank where he is said to have awarded to himself a huge loan of over N750 million that has neither been serviced nor repaid till date!
The Senate Adhoc Committee charged with the probe, which will be led by the senator representing Ekiti North, Olubunmi Adetunbi, with Senators Jika Dauda Haliru, Mohammed Tanko Almakura, Abdulfatai Buhari, Chukwuka Utazi, Ibrahim Hadeijia and Degi – Eremienyo Biobarakuma Wangaha as members, is quite credible, in my humble view. Indeed, from Senator Thompson George Sekibo, who moved the motion that led to the institution of the investigation, the leadership of the Senate and the membership of the adhoc committee, many stakeholders are hopeful of a thorough, sincere, fact-based, unsparing and untainted inquiry emanating from this particular oversight effort.
Thankfully, the House of Representatives, on its part, has also resolved to similarly interrogate the brazen looting of the NDDC and its de facto conversion into the personal Automated Teller Machine, ATM, of those charged with fighting corruption at the commission!
The senators and their House colleagues would be well advised that apart from paid agents and political jobbers, Niger Deltans in the main have absolutely no confidence in Akpabio’s superintendence of the commission. Far from being any sort of star reformer in the eyes of the people, as he would have the world believe, they have roundly become dismayed by the most obtuse degree of arrogance and impunity that have framed his stewardship thus far. When we are not being given the impression that Akpabio has Aso Rock squarely in his pocket and so has been awarded carte blanche to do as he pleases, then we are being assailed by reports that Mr. President was conned into believing a medical doctor is actually a PhD holder in Engineering and thus a fit and proper person to man the post of Executive Director, Projects, of the commission! In fact the emergent apprehension in oil-producing communities across the region is that these characters do not feel their pains since they hail from places far from any oil-producing localities!
Whereas hitherto, Niger Deltans had, in fact, welcomed President Buhari’s renewed interest in the affairs of their region, these shenanigans have only served to catastrophically erode the confidence of the people in the goodwill of the President, who they are now increasingly inclined to ultimately blame for the sorry pass in which the commission is now stranded. Indeed, while reposing much confidence in the ability and sincerity of the Senate and the House to save their interventionist agency from the kleptocratic rampage currently ravaging it, the Niger Deltan people insist that those charged with the task must not yield to intimidation or howsoever allow themselves to be compromised in this salvivic mission to rescue what little is left of the NDDC.
Barr. Jesutega Onokpasa ,
Onokpasa, a lawyer and commentator on national issues, wrote from Warri.