A civil society organisation, Vanguard for Transparent Leadership and Democracy (VATLAD), has commended the Nigerian Senate over its call to President Muhammadu Buhari to inaugurate the substantive board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
VATLAD’s National President, Comrade Igbini Odafe Emmanuel, who expressed delight over the Senate’s move, however, raised concerns about some serving ministers that are bent on substituting members of NDDC board already cleared by the Senate.
The statement obtained by PlatinumPost in Abuja on Tuesday, read : “Our attention has been drawn to media reports that Senate President Ahmed Lawal-led Senate of Nigeria has insisted on President Buhari inaugurating only the members of the governing Board of NDDC that were duly nominated, and screened and confirmed by the Senate in 2019 in accordance with the provision of section 2(2a) of the NDDC Act 2000, as amended.
“But we are saddened by Media reports that there still exist some Ministers of APC-led Federal Goverment who hail from the Oil Producing Niger Delta Region, who vow to cause alteration or replacement in the membership of this Senate confirmed Governing Board of NDDC.
“This move by these Ministers is highly regrettable and counter-productive for APC which they are prominent members of. We never expect such move coming from any patriotic member of APC because doing so has continued to make mockery of APC and its National Leadership, and portrays President Buhari and APC as enemies of the exploited, devastated, deprived and abandoned people of the Oil Producing Region particularly the South-South Geopolitical Zone which is the major Oil dnd Gas Producer and core Niger Delta Region, that have suffered unimaginable level of human and environmental Calamities as a result of over sixty years of continued Oil Exploration and Exploitation activities in their Region. If anything, it is expected that the Opposition Party in the Region should be the one to create this confusion in order to pit the people against APC.
“It is pertinent to remind Nigerians that during the sixteen years of PDP-led FG, the people of Niger Delta Region never witnessed this sort of rancour and ridicule from among top members of the Party over mere inauguration of Governing Board of NDDC that has been duly screened and confirmed by PDP dominated and led Senate.
“Clearly but sadly, is the fact that those APC Ministers alleged to still be opposed to the inauguration of this Board confirmed by the Senate, are simply and deliberately putting their personal political and economic interest far above that of APC with the resultant effect that if they are not immediately stopped, APC is bound to lose the massive votes of the people of the nine Oil Producing States of Nigeria and PDP will sure be the ultimate beneficiary of this come 2023.
“Also this reported attempts by these Ministers from the South-South Region has very serious negative implication on the recently passed Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) by the National Assembly, as no genuine and serious foreign Investor will invest in the Petroleum Sector of any Country where top Government Officials of the same National Ruling Political Party are opposed to one another over critical Decisions expected to engender Peace and Security in the Region for Oil and Gas operations to thrive.
“In addition and very important is the fact that the Resolution of the Senate in confirming the Nominees of the Board presented by President Buhari has become part of an Act of National Assembly that can only be amended by the Senate but which the Senate must not allow in this case because the reason advanced so far by the Ministers is selfish and against the Progress, Peace, Public Order and Good Government of the Niger Delta Region and Nigeria at large. It is imperative for us to remind Nigerians of the provision of section 4 of 1999 Nigerian Constitution, as amended, which mandates the Senate to only make Laws for Peace, Public Order and Good Government of Nigeria. Nothing more, nothing Less!
“These Ministers, some of who are reported to have been State Governors in the Region should be strongly reminded of the implication of their Undemocratic and Unconstitutional acts against the Senate. None of them ever had a State Commissioner appointed by them brazenly opposing the appointment of other political Appointees of theirs duly confirmed by their State Houses of Assembly. It never happened!
“We therefore commend the Leadership of the Senate for defending the lawful Decision it carefully took in confirming the members of this Board of NDDC in 2019 but whose inauguration ceremony was temporarily put on hold by President Buhari to allow for commencement and completion of Forensic auditing of the Commission initially planned and approved only for few months but had sadly dragged for almost two years while development of the Region suffered serious setback.
“We restate that it was even wrong ab intio to put on hold, the inauguration ceremony of the confirmed Board of NDDC to allow for the forensic auditing of the Commission. As is the case with many other Federal Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) that had their Managements and Boards securely in place and functioning while forensic and or other forms of auditing took place simulatenously, the NDDC Board should also be treated same. Daily Activites of Board of NDDC and the Forensic Auditors are not mutually exclusive.
“Recall also that we had consistently advised President Buhari to be wary of the PDP Governors of the South-South Region who first made the deliberate political move to mislead him against inaugurating this substantive Board of NDDC but who now turn around to accuse him and APC of acting against the overall interest and demand of the people of the Region who demand the inauguration of this Board.
“President Buhari therefore has the sole responsibility to rise immediately to allow the Rule of Law to prevail, save his public image and that of his Party (APC) by directing the immediate and unconditional inauguration of the Senate confirmed Board of NDDC by the Vice President, His Excellency, Prof. Osinbajo, while he is away in London for the ongoing Education Summit.
“Failure to do this latest July 31, 2021 as he promised to do few weeks ago, will sure cause him and APC to lose the massive votes of the people of the Oil Producing States come 2023 General Elections.
” It is also not in doubt that some of the APC Ministers opposed to this inauguration of the confirmed Board do not enjoy large support of the people of their Region hence they desperately seek to create this confusion in order to be seen to be relevant in the politics of APC in the Niger Delta Region. It is our candid advice to them to allow this inauguration of the Board as the sure way to begin to enjoy the supports and respect of the people of the region.”