The United Niger Delta Energy Development Security Strategy, has lamented that since President Muhammadu Buhari ordered forensic audit of the NDDC, some elements it described as ‘hyenas’ in the National Assembly had vowed not to allow the region to breathe.
UNDEDSS, a civil society coalition for the oil rich but impoverished region, lamented that the National Assembly have never allowed the agency carry out its intervention functions properly because of so much vested interest by members of the parliament.
The group said that the Niger Delta region has been under the stronghold of the National Assembly since inception, lamenting that the region has been raped and deprived so many times by legislators who keep exerting undue interference with the operations of the Commission.
According to the group, the National Assembly over the years had been suffocating the agency to the extent of fleecing it of resources meant for the development of the region.
Arising from an emergency Webinar Meeting of UNDEDSS anchored in the creeks of the Niger Delta, UNDEDSS accused the National Assembly of routinely padding the commission’s budget and compelling the management to give them juicy contracts.
UNDEDSS leaders, in a strong worded statement signed by Mr. Tony I. Uranta, its Secretary General and made available to newsmen on Thursday, said that whatever that happens to NDDC as an agency of government affects the generality of the people of the region hence it is imperative for them to speak up.
They warned the NASS not to underrate its capacity to move against it over the alleged undue interference on the activities of the NDDC.
“Let us remind the NASS that UNDEDSS is not an internet one-man body,” Uranta said, warning “our capacity for action should not be tested!” He warned that the NASS Leadership must stop hoodwinking Nigerians with their revision of history.
According to the statement, “the Niger Delta Ministry was given supervisory powers over the NDDC in 2016, following talks between UNDEDSS and the FGN (where the Presidency was ably represented by a team led by the late Chief of Staff to Mr. President, Mallam Abba Kyari and the former DG DSS, Mallam Lawal Daura; whilst Pastor Usani Uguru Usani was Minister of the Niger Delta. It was under Usani that the Presidency wrote to place the NDDC under the Ministry.
“To lie that the current Minister of the Niger Delta in any way made the President to put the NDDC under supervision by the Ministry is as shown above a lie from the pit of hell, that attempts to paint Mr. President as being short of memory.
“All the new Chief of Staff, erudite Professor Ibrahim Gambari needs to do is check the records, and consult with Messrs Malami, Usani and Daura who are still very alive”, UNDEDSS said.
Continuing, the UNDEDSS Scribe, disclosed that the National Assembly has, for years, had knees on the throat and chest of the Niger Delta thus choking the region whilst enabling some members of both chambers to corruptly enrich themselves and impoverish the region for years.
“NASS legislators routinely padded the NDDC budget and compelled NDDC management to give juicy contracts to them, even with all parties knowing that the contracts will never be executed, although the putative contractors will be paid 100% for work not upto 15% completed.
“Even the Presidency’s decision to deliver palliatives to the region has attracted the hyenas in the NASS, the statement said.
“They’ve demanded to ‘share in’ even this compassionate program of Mr. President, or kill it, thus denying our people the much-needed palliatives to survive this COVID-19 season!”
The UNDEDSS statement queried that “NASS leadership and members are very much afraid of what will be revealed by the Forensic Audit being carried out on the explicit orders of President Buhari, else why are they hellbent on scuttling the already-begun audit?”
“They got Ms. Joi Nunieh sacked,” continued Uranta, “but have found the new DG, Professor Pondei equally resistant to their overtures intended to keep siphoning billions of Naira monthly on spurious consultancies and non-existent infrastructure contracts!”
“If this hostile interference is allowed to impede Buhari’s singular act of decisiveness concerning the Niger Delta, in the face of non-delivery of remediation in the region (not even in Ogoni lands as promised by President Buhari), non-relocation of the Shipbuilding Dry Dock originally slated for the region (which is still lying idle in Lagos waters!), etc., the FGN must hold NASS Leadership to blame should there be unrest in the creeks.
“Of course, UNDEDSS is not saying any one individual or management team is angelic. What we are against is this attempt by people we know to be corruptly impoverishing the Niger Delta to derail the very welcome forensic audit and COVID-19 palliatives ordered by President Buhari himself. NASS, we cannot breathe, remove the stranglehold on the Niger Delta or else..,” the statement concluded.
Recalls that President Muhammadu Buhari had late last year ordered a forensic audit of the records of the NDDC. However, citing oversight functions, the National Assembly comprises of both the senate and the House of Representatives had also instituted what many believed as ‘parallel audit’ of the Commission.