By Ignatius Ushie
The federal government has on inaugurated the governing board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
The government while inaugurating the board charged them to carry out and implement the core mandate of the commission thereby bringing development to the people of the Area. Recall that the agency had been without a board for nearly four years.
The Senate on December 20, 2022, confirmed the nominations of the Chairman and Board Members of the Commission after President Muhammadu Buhari sent their names in accordance with the NDDC (Establishment) Act, 2008.
Speaking during the inauguration, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, represented by a former permanent Secretary and a Special Assistant to the Presisdent, urged the members of the board to be above board, adding that they should work towards policies that would contribute to the coordinated development of the Niger Delta.
The Minister of Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, Umana Okon Umana, urged the board to implement the recommendations of the Audit reports and live above board by operating the core mandate of the commission.
According to him, “the tasks before the New Board shall include a faithful implementation of the recommendations of the report of the Forensic Audit. Besides the findings of the Forensic Audit, Government has received numerous petitions alleging irregularities in employment in the Commission. The New Board will have to look into these allegations of irregular employment from 2019 and follow up on the ongoing personnel audit in the Commission to make sure that all cases of employment during the period under review were in accordance with extant rules and regulations of the Service.
“In executing the mandate of the Commission, the Board and Management of the NDDC are to note that in a letter of 29 September 2019, the President had: “(a) Delegated to the Honourable Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, the powers and duties conferred on the President by section 7(3) of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) Act” [and] “(b) Directed the Board and Management of the NDDC to carry out their activities under the supervision of the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs.”
“I believe the intent of the President’s letter as quoted above is self-explanatory.
On our part as the overseeing Ministry, we will not relent in providing and availing the Board and the Commission at large with the necessary support and guidance needed for a successful tenure”.
Umana said for coherence and clarity of duty schedule, a retreat will be organised for the board members so as to give them a direction if what to do in accordance to the law establishing the commission.
In his words, “accordingly, we shall organize a retreat for the Board Members, their Aides and Management of the Commission, with the Honourable Minister, Honourable Minister of State and Permanent Secretary in attendance.The New Management is to further note that it must strictly adhere to the relevant provisions of the extant rules in the Service, particularly compliance with procurement thresholds as enshrined in the Public Procurement Act of the nation, and abide by the operating financial regulations to ensure prudence in the management of the limited resources.
“Every contract above the threshold of Management is to be referred to the Ministerial Tenders Board and the Federal Executive Council. Any breach of contract approval limits will attract severe sanctions”.
In her remarks, the Minister of State, Federal Ministry of Niger-Delta Affairs, Mrs Sharon Ikeazu, urged the new board to work towards restoring hope to the people of the region.
A member of the board representing Cross River State in the commission. Rt. Hon. Orok Duke said, a time has come for the management of NDDC to but an end to illegality and deliver developments to its people.
Mr. Duke said with the calibre of people in the board it will not be business as usual.
The Management board of the NDDC is chaired by Mrs. Lauretta Onoche. Other members of the NDDC board are Dimga Erugba (Abia), Emem Wills (Akwa Ibom), Dimaro Denyanbofa (Bayels Nva), Orok Duke (Cross River), Gbenga Edema (Ondo) and Elekwachi Dinkpa (Rivers).
Others are Mohammed Abubakar (Nasarawa), Sule-Iko Sani (Kebbi), Tahir Mamman(Adamawa), Samuel Ogbuku (Bayelsa) MD for a term of two years, Charles Airhiavbere (Edo) Director of Finance, and Charles Ogunmola (Ondo) Director of Projects.