By Perez Brisibe
A coalition of Niger Delta activists have described the campaign to invalidate the board of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC and sack the Senate committee on Niger Delta as a calculated attempt to perpetuate the illegality at the commission.
The activists in a statement Saturday, while reacting to Friday’s protest by a handful of protesters at the National Assembly, explained that the motley protesters who were sponsored, did not mask their real intents by demanding that the 3-man NDDC Interim Management Committee set up by the Niger Delta minister, Chief Godswill Akpabio be allowed to stay in office while the board duly presented by President Muhammadu Buhari and confirmed by the Senate be dissolved.
The statement which was signed by convener of the coalition, Comrade Ebi Torofaowei, said: “It is clear that their real intent is to procure the continuation of the illegality at the NDDC. It is a strange argument for illegality at the expense of the law and due process.
“The protesters are clearly working at the behest of people who are threatened that the Senate resolution vowing to have nothing to do with the IMC will bring down their house of cards.
“For the avoidance of doubt, we support the Senate resolution that the IMC should not defend the NDDC 2019/2020 budget since there is a board in place. We urge the president to direct the inauguration of the board to end these acts of desperation by the illegal interim management committee.”
The group called on the Senate leadership to be steadfast on their resolution and asked President Buhari to ignore the protest noting that “it is not backed by the leaders and people of the region.”
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Speaking further, the activists said: “We call on Mr. President to review the appointment of the illegal IMC to continue its stay in office. The people of the region have stated clearly their opposition to the committee appointed by Godswill Akpabio because it is a design to cover up the fraud perpetrated by the previous board members nominated by the likes of Akpabio while he was a governor.”
On the demand of the protesters for the new board to be discarded, the coalition said: “Is it not a surprise that it is after the inordinate plan of the minister and the IMC to hijack the NDDC have been exposed to Nigerians in the last few weeks that they are faulting the board screening and casting aspersions on the integrity of the process.?
“What the minister and his appointed IMC are trying to do is to distort the arguments and allow for the continued desecration of the NDDC Act 2000 as amended in order to compromise the forensic audit ordered by President Buhari. Let it be stated that our members were in the vanguard of the request for the forensic audit long before Akpabio joined the APC and became a minister.
“We have campaigned that the NDDC’s books be examined and stand on this, but our position is that the board is in the best position to supervise the audit because of its broad representation.
“It is not incompatible with its function as a board. To make the argument that a handpicked committee beholden to a minister who is an interested party in the past administrations of the NDDC is better placed to supervise the audit is dubious. Hence our appeal is that Mr. President should not permit such fraud under his watch.
“Niger Deltans are satisfied with the broad representation of the board, which is in conformity with the NDDC Act. We cannot allow a situation where a handpicked committee is allowed to superintend over the affairs of the commission and continue the culture of unaccountability that has dogged the NDDC.”