by Boma Nwuke
A few days ago, Nigerians and other Nationals were treated to uncommon theatres where they fed their eyes freely , untiringly on corruption that was unthinkable ,perpetuated by noble men in the country.
The Stage was the red wing of the National Assembly, the plot was the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), the actors and actresses were key members of the Interim Management Committee of the NDDC, sacked and current and the Minister for Niger Delta, Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, with the Senator Olubunmi Adetumbi led investigative panel as umpire.
The drama featured three parts,first was the indoor part where questions were asked, and answers provided in accordance or dodged.Second was drama at the exterior of the red chamber where there was a wild display of skills of combat.
Third was the climax of the plot,A new generation television had hosted two prominent figures whose activities were linked to the Senate probe of the NDDC.The duo were friends before, now they are sworn enemies, going after each other’s jugular.
Both warlords are learned men,they both belong to the bar although findings revealed that Nunieh may have been called to the bar before her former boss.
That is by the way.
The Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria had set up a Panel to investigate financial recklessness and misappropriation of funds by the management of the NDDC from October 2019 to the present.
Under the period of review, the federal government had constituted two Interim Management Committees.
Joi Nunieh uncommon Woman of Rivers State,though sophisticated yet rustic .
Joi is Ogoni by birth,a strong supporter of the Movement for the survival of the Ogoni people (MOSOP), She was one woman who stood with the late human rights activist and playwright,Ken Saro wiwa.The Esther of Ogoni,a title she earned from the chiefs for championing the Ogoni course.
In another vein,
Akpabio is one man,a Colossus, whose ascendancy to corridors of state and national political power is uncommon.
Akpabio was,a 3 time Commissioner of Akwa Ibom State, under the Attah administration,He was a two term governor, and one term Senator who transformed from being ordinary bench warmer to Senate Minority Leader.He sought re-election to the Senate but that aspiration met uncommon summersault at the polls.His power of oratory, and the Multitudinous crowd at campaign grounds did little to help him maintain his Senate seat.
With the election being over,it was time to reconstitute the Federal Executive Council.
He was compensated and the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs became his port of call.
At first it was perceived that the ministry was too small for the former governor,and his designation to that ministry meant denigrating his personality ,but with the unfolding dramatization of events in the arena of alleged corporate”thiefry” we do not need to look at the Ministry of Niger Delta as small anymore.
The Niger Delta Ministry was established by the Yar Adua administration on September 10, 2008, to formulate and execute programes that impact on the communities in the Niger Delta Region.
The Ministry was set up to oversee the implementation of government policies and coordinate the intervention activities of Agencies in line with the core objectives of its establishment.In other words,it is the parent ministry of the NDDC.
The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC )is an agency set up by the Obasanjo government in 2000 as a medium of neccesity to address the burning socio- economic and security problems of the oil producing communities of the Niger Delta.
Prior to the establishment of the NDDC,an attempt was made in the past to develop the Niger Delta Region.
In 1992, the Babangida administration created the Oil Mineral Development Commission (OMPADEC) established by decree No 23 of July 1992.
OMPADEC was set up to develop the Oil Producing areas of the country, providing physical and human resources development.
OMPADEC though a military administration creation,suffered same fate with the NDDC as it was riddled with corruption.
The NDDC has seen many appointees, Substantive and Interim but never have we seen open alleged celebration of corruption that the Senate Committee uncovered.
The Senate President, Ahmed Lawan had while declaring the public investigation open, revealed allegations of financial recklessness and misappropriation of funds to the tune of N 81 billion from October 2019.
That set the ball rolling for unveiling an avalanche of corruption and gross misconduct.
The theatre exhibited the most comic relief of years there were points and counter points and there were accusations and counter accusations .The current Interim Management Committee accused some uncommon federal lawmakers of carting away jobs and inflating the cost of training programs to the tune of N 6 billion , the investigative panel was appalled, they were shocked to their bone marrow of such recklessness.However, that was not all, more revelations were on the way.
The NDDC officials told the panel of senators that allocations were made as covid-19 relief package for workers and associates.
They told an already bewildered panel that the sum of N1.5 billion was allocated to sort out staff out of which, the Police were given over N400 million to buy sanitizers and face masks.
It was the time of the head of the supervising ministry to put in his defence.
Minister Akpabio told his former colleagues that no money was stolen since he was appointed Minister and that the only project he authorised was the Covid-19 pandemic relief package.
He said the National Assembly members were part of the problem of the NDDC as they cut down the budget of the agency without recourse to the impact it would create .He was done with the day so he thought, but he was mistaken.
Out of the hall of the public hearing, waited a former Acting Managing Director, Joi Nunieh. Joi was defiant and told the press around her what a bad man Akpabio was.
It was a broad day telecast that millions of people including children watched.A defiant Joi told the press how she was asked by the uncomon minister to frame a serving Senator, Senator Peter Nwaboshi, of collecting contracts from the Commission.
If anyone thought that that was a child’s play then one is mistaken because the event that played out at the weekend and Monday on Arise Television was the icing on the cake.It was an exposition of character, bitter words, founded and unfounded.
Akpabio was on Arise News featuring issues in the Niger Delta.It was repulsive as well as degrading and made the call for the Minister to step aside from his Ministry inevitable.
The Minister had said that Nunieh was not sacked but replaced, he said she was not relieved of her position for corruption but insurbodination to respond to calls and invitation from his ministry.Akpabio said that her replacement was as a result of her inability to defend the absence of NYSC certificate and that provoked a lot of questions from analysts as to why the honourable minister would appoint a person without the requisite documents?.
Again at what point did the minister realise the absence of NYSC certificate among documents the former Acting Chairman submitted?
In addition, Akpabio claimed through a document he showed to the anchor of the TV Programme that a letter from the office of the late Chief of Staff to Mr President, Abba Kyari had sent a letter to the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs in relation to the non presentation of the NYSC certificate.
For now, no one has the ability to unravel the truth since Abba Kyari is no more.
Some Nigerians are of the view that the public show of shame is enough to ask all those involved in it and financial recklessness to step aside just the way the former EFCC Boss Ibrahim Magu was punished.
It is indeed sad to note that a the treasury of the Commision magnanimously set up to give succor to the people of Niger Delta is being raped by uncommon rats, that have made it to stand firmly on the ground to achieve its mandate.
For the NDDC to be established, there was the agitation for resource control, there were chiefs and elders of the Niger Delta and there were media men including yours truly, that were before the freedom fighters alias repentant militants came.
Today most of those whose voices echoed for better life for the people of the Niger Delta and those who worked day and night to give a face to resource control which gave the oil bearing states 13% derivation and fetched us a ministry and a commission are either dead or living in abject poverty whereas the uncommon men and women, noble and dishonest are having a filled day of our common patrimony.
The Commission might have been a cash cow for a few but for the sake of the impoverished people of the region who are among the population of the world’s extreme poor, there is the need to rejig the Commission in its entirety.
This is important because some staff of the Commission if not all, are uncommon, compromised and have different camps of loyalty.
It is hoped that the Presidency would not hesitate in looking into the matter with the speed it deserves.
We are aware that there is a forensic audit going on in the Commission for some months, what we ask is how long will it take the audit panel to come up with its findings?
In our country, too much delay could be translated to culpability.
Frustration,anger deprivation, hunger have continued to be daily features of the people of the Niger Delta and we
cannot watch them go up while we go down.
Every uncommon rat who ventured into the despicable act of raping the NDDC treasury must be brought to justice.