Friday, Jan 2021

Open Letter to President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, on the Tenure Extension of the Interim Management Committee of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC.

Dear Mr. President,

On behalf of the millions of Niger Delta Youth whose interests, agitations and aspirations we represent under the aegis of the Niger Delta Youth Vanguard, we greet you, Ramadan Kareem, sir. We pray and hope that the exacting supplications and sacrifices of this season would yield bountiful harvests to you and our dear country and continent.

As humans, and Nigerians first of all before being Niger Deltans, we deem it very essential and judicious to commiserate with you on the loss, recently, of your Chief of Staff, Malam Abba Kyari due to complications arising from his testing positive for the dreaded COVID-19 pandemic. While wishing him Al Jannah Firdaus, we pray that Allah the Most High (SWT) will comfort you and the family that he left behind. Please, take heart, Mr President.

Your Excellency, we decided to write you this open letter essentially to thank you for the extension of the tenure of members of the Interim Management Committee of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, for another seven months (May to December 2020). This could not have come at a more auspicious time.

The tenure extension, which underscores the fact that the anti-corruption fight is still very much on stream and alive, is also a clear message to career politicians and privileged profiteers of the mismanagement of the NDDC that it is Nigeria first and foremost for you and that no matter the decibel of the din of the market, you will always steer the ship of state aright and without bias. We commend, in no uncertain terms, your patriarchal and patriotic zeal in this regard. More than ever before, you have given us credible reasons to believe that you mean well for us in the Niger Delta.

This letter is also premised on our knowledge and appreciation of the fact that you were under so much pressure from those behind the wanton pillaging that had gone on unchecked in the NDDC over the years and wanted the status quo to remain but you did not bend to their selfish demands. That you rode this storm at such a difficult period for the world, our nation and even, personally, is a testament to your unimpeachable forthrightness, transparency and love for the country. It further shows that Your Excellency is fully committed to saving the NDDC from being shut down by the activities of corrupt contractors and officials at the commission.

Mr President, again, we thank you for not paying heed to those harbingers of doom who did not see anything good in the IMC. In reality, they knew that since the Minister for Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, inaugurated the committee and launched – with your backing – a forensic audit into the books of the NDDC, their days were numbered and all their corruption closets were about to be flung open.

It would be recalled that in less than one month of its constitution, the IMC discovered that the immediate-past NDDC management awarded 1,921 ‘emergency contracts’ at N1.070trillion in just seven months, against an annual budget of about N400billion. This confirmed allegations of high-level corruption, flagrant abuse of due process, abandoned projects, poor quality project delivery, among others at the NDDC.

Since its inauguration in October 2019, the IMC, a necessary intervention at this dire time for the interventionist agency, has attacked its duty like Hercules, in Greek mythology, while cleaning the Augean stable. The masterstroke was when news filtered out that the IMC had recommended that some of the directors believed to have been culpable in the corruption spree and those who had disciplinary issues should go on leave. Such measures are what some of our institutions need to perform optimally and for the reasons that they were established. We commend the members also for staying the course and not allowing themselves to be swayed by the strident and sustained oppositions to their performance.

We do not doubt that with the way they have attacked this brief, more salacious details would emerge in the weeks ahead on how the NDDC was plundered blind by those who were supposed to superintend over the judicious use of its resources for the greater good of the people. Posterity will not forget you all. You all are already on the right side of history.

More importantly, we salute Mr Akpabio for his unwavering commitment to ensuring that the agency fulfils its mandate to the Niger Delta people for whom it was originally established, not for a thieving few. Despite all the darts hurled at Mr Akpabio, the media attacks both online and in the traditional media; and to the point of being accused of fraudulently awarding a N5.5billion contract for the procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE) for health workers in the fight against corona-virus in the nine member-states of the commission to a Port Harcourt-based company, Signora Concepts Services Limited, he didn’t lose sight of the finishing line. The allegation turned out to be false after all as the NDDC and Signora Concepts Services Limited, in separate reactions, dismissed the claims, insisting that there was no such contract. Neither did Akpabio buckle under the strain of the blackmail that he makes dubious payments and collects kickbacks from contractors, allegations that were obviously fabricated against the Honourable Minister.

Well done, Hon.Akpabio, may your tribe increase in our clime.

Most importantly, we thank you, Mr President, for your abiding faith in the Honourable Minister and for retaining this crop of distinguished Nigerians to cleanse the NDDC. Their labour of love should not go unrecorded.

We thank you most profoundly for reading, Mr President.

Sincerely Yours

Ovie Ekere

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