Traditional rulers in Bayelsa State have expressed support for the forensic audit of the NDDC as directed by President Muhammadu Buhari, saying the exercise is healthy for the agency and the region.
The monarchs, under the auspices of ‘Paramount Rulers Forum for Oil Host Communities in the Central Niger Delta’, therefore urged the National Assembly to stop its planned probe of the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Mr Godswill Akpabio, and the Prof. Kemebradikumo Pondei-led Interim Management (IMC) of the NDDC.
In a letter to the president dated June 22, 2020, the traditional rulers argued that those opposed to the forensic exercise “have stolen so much funds which they use in sponsoring and promoting their personal interests against general interests.”
They said, “Some anti-development forces with sinister plans and motives are moving around in order to truncate and frustrate the ongoing forensic audit of the NDDC.
“In a bid to actualizing their evil agenda, they have written several petitions to the National Assembly against the current IMC of the NDDC and the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs calling on the National Assembly to probe the minister and the IMC.”
Among the first-class and second class monarchs who signed the letter, were the King of Akassa Kingdom, P. W. Consul Oluku; Pere of Gbanraun, F. F. Gabriel Okiakpe; Paul Seide (Bilabiri); Manasseh Olozulu (Foropa); Bidei Oyinmo (Egbemo-Angalabiri); Solomon Pateigha (Angalatoru); D.D.A Akpele (Sangana); Robinson Demeoru (Azagbene); Sapele Samuel (Ogbotubu) and the Central Coordinator and Convener, Alfred Perekebina of Koromotoru.
They added: “Our reasons for supporting you, Mr President, is that the NDDC was established based on the agitations of the riverine Niger Delta (Ijaw) host communities, who demanded resource control from the Federal Government which resultant negotiations gave birth to the NDDC with the sole mandate of delivering empowerment and infrastructural development (projects) to the oil-producing areas whose people are impoverished.
“However, the erstwhile NDDC officials failed to empower and develop the area as mandated but siphoned, diverted and embezzled money amounting to several hundreds of billions of naira to enrich themselves, leaving the people in perpetual poverty.”
The traditional rulers urged Buhari to stand firm behind Akpabio and Pondei to conclude the forensic audit in order to strengthen the commission to carry out proper development of the region for the people’s benefit.
They also appealed to the president to make nominations and appointments of persons from oil-producing communities and local government areas the way Akpabio and Pondei were rightly nominated and appointed.
According to them, such rightful nominations and appointments would further douse tension in the once-volatile region.