The President of the Ijaw National Congress, (INC), Professor Benjamin Okaba, has expressed reservations about President Muhammadu Buhari’s vow to recover every kobo looted at the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and ensure that those found culpable in the forensic audit report shall face the law.
Buhari made the declaration in his address in Abuja at the virtual opening of the NDDC Prototype Hostel at the University of Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, on Thursday.
Okaba, who stated this during a television programme on Sunday, described the president’s tough-talking as mere rhetoric, stressing that there was nothing exciting about it as he (Buhari) had made similar promises before.
Okaba said, “I won’t say I’m excited by the (president’s) declaration. We expected this long ago. For many Nigerians, this is just rhetoric. We have said it earlier that forensic auditing should be a routine administrative process of the NDDC. It is not anything that anybody should celebrate.
“Buhari has made several promises. People have called for the audit report to be made public. The issues, as they are, remain mere allegations and as a far as the INC is concerned, we have before now demanded release of the forensic audit report and as many persons that have not delivered on the assignments given to them, let appropriate actions be taken.”
He called on the president to constitute the substantive board of the NDDC, adding that “this is the only thing that will excite us and not the promises he is making”.
The Ijaw leader noted that although the Commission had not delivered on its mandate, there is no guarantee that there will be another institution that will do better than the agency. He added that it was disturbing that the appointment of officers into the commission had been politicised and not based on competence, “but given to those close to the corridors of power”.
While noting that the continuous appointment of interim administrators for the NDDC was a violation of the law establishing it, he said the politicisation of the commission had resulted in huge administrative cost to the detriment of projects delivery.
He said that the Ijaw and Niger Delta people would continue to insist on resource control, stressing that the NDDC is bedeviled by many challenges and the forensic audit exercise was meant to unravel all the problems.