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Anger in N/Delta over Aso Rock top shot’s meddling in NDDC

Tinubu

…Alleged N350b squandered on unverifiable projects

… Presidential aide backing unpopular MD for unknown reasons

BY AMOS OKIOMA

Niger Delta elders and other stakeholders have alerted President Bola Tinubu to the lingering face-off between one of his chief aides and the leadership of the Senate over the latter’s probe of the alleged illegal, wasteful and unverifiable expenditures at the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to the tune of about N350billion.

Under the aegis of Niger Delta Elders for Good Governance and Accountability, the stakeholders also alleged that the Senate is miffed by the level of disrespect and usurping of the authorities of the Senate President, Senator Godswill Obot Akpabio and the Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), Senator George Akume, by the Aso Rock official over issues leading to the possible naming of a new Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer (MD/CEO) for the Commission.

According to the group, while the Senate President and SGF want a change of guard at NDDC to promote economic growth and development in the region in line with President Tinubu’s mandate, the particular Presidential Villa (Aso Rock) top shot was alleged to have vowed to retain the present MD, Dr. Samuel Ogbuku.

The elders and stakeholders, in a statement issued via electronic mail, to newsmen and signed by High Chief Donald Ewere, called on President Tinubu to caution his aide who, they noted, had vowed to retain Ogbuku allegedly against the wishes of the people of the Niger Delta region.

According to High Chief Ewere, the Senate President should be accorded his respect as the country’s number three citizen and a leader of the Niger Delta.

The elders and stakeholders urged the Aso Rock aide to ”respect the views of the people of the region; he is just a Presidential aide and a non-Niger Deltan that does not understand the plight of the Niger Delta people, and he has turned a blind eye to the ongoing allegations of multi-billion Naira funds misappropriation at the NDDC.”

They added: “For example, the NDDC allegedly spent N150 billion in three months between January to March 2023 as reported to the Senate Ad hoc Committee and has since then spent over N200 billion in unverifiable projects. Within the last few weeks alone, the NDDC has paid over 72 unverifiable distilling projects worth N650 million each, totaling over N46 billion. This is insanity, and it seems like no one in the Presidency cares or is even trying to stop this evil that is being perpetrated against the Niger Delta people.”

They expressed their anger and frustration against President Tinubu for ignoring calls to remove the MD/CEO, dissolve the Commission’s Board and allow the most qualified director to handle its affairs pending the constitution of a new Board, alleging that the lack of accountability at the NDDC had brought the Commission to financial ruins.

“The elders and stakeholders called on the President not to give listening ears to sponsored and paid sycophants in the media urging him to retain the Managing Director of the NDDC, but that the President should ask these sponsored jobbers how many votes did his Presidential Campaign win in these individuals’ areas and local governments, despite the fact that these individuals were holding these offices throughout his Presidential campaign and failed to support him but rather, they allegedly contributed to support the opposition,” they stated.

The elders and stakeholders offered to expose what they described as the shoddy and disloyal role of a leading politician from Bayelsa State and Dr. Ogbuku ahead of the February 25 Presidential poll.

They also decried the lack of meaningful development in the oil and gas-rich region despite the trillions of naira spent.

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They said: “The National Assembly approved the total sum of N876 billion budget for Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) for the 2023 financial year.

“This was sequel to the consideration and adoption of the report of the House Committee on Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC). Out of the amount N34.24billion was for personnel expenditure, the sum of N17.47 billion was for overhead expenditure, the sum of N3.71 billion was for internal capital expenditure and the sum of N490.55 billion was for development projects for the service of the NDDC for the financial year ending March 31, 2024.

“We are calling on President Tinubu and the SGF Senator Akume to dissolve the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer and allow the most qualified director to handle the affairs of the commission, pending the constitution of a new Board before it’s too late to salvage the Commission.”

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Ihesiulo Grace

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