The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Sen Godswill Akpabio, has said the South-South Governors should stop giving President Mohammadu Buhari directives on how to run the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) because it has no powers to do so.
The senator stated this in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, on Tuesday, while reacting to resolutions by the South-South Governors Forum asking the President to prevail on NDDC to pay only staff salaries preserves incoming funds in an escrow account pending the appointment of a substantive board.
Akpabio said the South-South Governors should shift their attention to excluding selves of governance misconducts in their respective states, especially on unlawful fore-choice in Local Government’s caretakers’ administrations imposition of loyalists where council elections are allowed.
According to him, “I am not aware that governors now have powers to give directives to the President, but I think they have more critical issues to fix in the region. Federal Government told governors to allow democracy in LG’s and stop operating caretakers’ narrative in the councils.
“In many of the states, councils are left without democratically elected LGs for several months. But even when they now say we want to conduct elections, somebody will sit in a room and write names of his choice as Chairman and councillors, but FG has not denied them funds.
“I am ready to have a board for NDDC by tomorrow, but let’s finish with the forensic audit first, then we can have aboard, but it would not be business as usual. We brought a forensic audit, and even the governors supported it because we said NDDC has not worked.
“So we want to know why it hasn’t work to be able to do things differently. The forensic audit will be out in a few months. We will need some policy and legal amendments to have the change we want from what we know already.
“So the governors should not be issuing directives to the President. They should carry out proper council elections. Today, NDDC does not have a balance sheet you can take to the World Bank to access funds. When the right thing is done, more money will come. A board will definitely be appointed.”
Akpabio, who also spoke on the permanent headquarters project, noted that the President deserves to be commended for approving the ministry’s desire and the commission’s management to ensure its completion. He emphasized that successive administrations have failed to realize the same since the days of OMPADEC.
He added that the commission was paying over N300Million yearly for its rented headquarters office in Port Harcourt, noting that, “What many didn’t know was that for over 15 years, that office was not connected to the national grid. So the purchase of diesel also became a racket, so you understand why completing the permanent headquarters was not the focus for so long”, Akpabio said.