Posted By Godwin Onyemaechi
Delta Governor Ifeanyi Okowa has rejected the use of forensic audit as an excuse for delays in constituting Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) Board.
Okowa, who spoke while receiving the South-South Zonal Working Committee of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Asaba, said the forensic audit was about past activities of NDDC and should not jeopardise progress of the Commission.
He said by the law establishing NDDC, it was meant to touch Niger Delta people, and the Act was all-encompassing, including giving the people representation on the Board and for States in the zone to participate indirectly through advisory council of the commission.
According to him: “It is on record that in the last two years or more, we have truly not had a board for the NDDC. We started with a committee and unfortunately, we ended up with interim administration which is unknown to the Act establishing NDDC.
“The Act rightfully enables every state that produces oil to have a member representing it in the board, but in the last two years or more, we have not had representation of the states.
“This means that the states have no input in what goes on at the commission and its board, and that in itself is not good enough.
“I believe that whether there is a forensic audit or not, it should not stop the constitution of a board because the audit was not for the people being sworn in as members of the board but about the activities of the board in the past.
[7/9, 12:18] : “Unfortunately, we have stayed on this situation for so long. As South-South governors, we will continue to call on President Muhammadu Buhari to quickly reconstitute the board so that every state will have the opportunity to participate in both projects and running of the NDDC.”
The Governor added a participatory process would give credibility to the running of the board but said “as it is run today, there is no doubt that it’s not decent enough and we are not happy as a people.
“NDDC can be better run both in terms of management processes and planning of projects and we do believe that the forensic audit will help to unearth some issues of the past.
“But more importantly, is for us to chart a proper direction for a management team that will ensure accountability and fairness.
“I believe that when people are fully tenured, they will be able to plan for their four years. But when people are uncertain about their tenures, it becomes very difficult for them to plan well.
“We also believe that NDDC can truly take on projects that will be more beneficial to our people rather than put their hands in all manner of things and in the end, we cannot account for projects that were executed.
“So, I will not be surprised if we have thousands of projects that are abandoned because every set of appointees forgets the past projects and begins new ones and, because their tenures are not even guaranteed, the projects end half way,” Okowa stressed.
[7/9, 12:20] : On the Southern Governors recent meeting in Lagos, he said the decisions were in the best interest of the country.
According to the Governor, “a situation where the host communities’ funds are limited to three per cent by the Senate is not right and not acceptable to us.
“If for any reason there was a drop from the proposed 10 per cent, it is very insensitive to have dropped it to three per cent. We hope that at the joint conference in the National Assembly, justice will be done.
“We have made our position known in the southern governors meeting. We also believe that specifically fixing a percentage for exploration of oil in an Act of the National Assembly was not done in good faith.
“At best, it would have been a management decision and ought not to be tied to percentages. It would have been a business decision and therefore cannot be legislated in terms of percentage in an Act that is supposed to be signed into law.
“We are not asking that monies cannot be set aside for explorations, but those have to be management decisions and monies set aside based on profitability or otherwise.”