Press Statement –
, September 18, 2011 Port Harcourt
UNTIL BREACH OF TRUST IS PUNISHED AT NDDC, LIVELIHOOD OF PEOPLES OF THE
DELTA COMMUNITIES WILL CONTINUE TO NOSE-DIVE NIGER
The IHRHL welcomes Mr. President’s recognition of the earlier fundamental error of judgment, in lining up unprofessional, incompetent, patronage-inclined politicians, god-father –ordained individuals and ethnic jingoist as members of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC),by way of his recent dissolution of the Board, in keeping with the recommendations of the recent NNDC Panel of Inquiry.
IHRHL urges Mr. President not to end the exercise by simple dissolution, but by ensuring that unlawful, unprofessional and unethical behaviours of those dismissed are duly investigated and necessary punishment meted out to them, in other to lay strong precedent for those who would eventually make the new board. The NDDC environment requires a painstaking surgical operation to enable it begin to live its dream for the region. Mr. President, therefore, is advised not to be in a hurry to establish a new board.
IHRHL urges Mr. President to note most seriously that the dissolved board went the way it went, because the infractions of earlier Board of Management which creatively strayed from the intent, vision of the founding of the NDDC, went scot-free without any interdiction, inspite of the hideous graft and unethical behaviour during the period. The impunity, lack of transparency and accountability which trailed NDDC from inception; and which turned its huge daydream to nightmare for the peoples and communities of the region, could quite successfully be linked to the unpunished atrocities of older Boards of development agencies of the region of the past, as the Niger Development Board (1960s), the River Basin Development Authority(1970s) and the Oil Mineral Producing Areas Development Commission (OMPADEC).
IHRHL further urges Mr. President to note very strongly that the NDDC has remained a patronage agency that was framed to fail. NDDC thus far has benefited individual oversight committee members at the Legistures, advisory bodies, individual power elites, bureaucrats across
, but continue to deliver tails of woes to the very communities and peoples it was set up to relief and place at the next level. Evidence abound in and outside the region on individual power elite illicit benefits at the expense of the peoples livelihood. Nigeria
In establishing a new Board for the NDDC, Mr. President must assure that professional men and women of courage, willing to make sacrifices, ready to heed the warnings of our history are expertly interviewed, if our best days cannot once again be buried in our past, but spread out before us. The era where governors that lack traces of transparency and accountability, are given free hand to draft their house-boys and girls and or cronies, unfit as they are, to run a critical ‘Marshall Plan’ agency for the peoples of the region, should be over forthwith. Mr. President will be proactively averting the enormous cost of reaction, by the peoples of the region, by tacitly engaging in preventive measures, by way of placing the right candidates that have the capacity to see NDDC policy as that directed against hunger, poverty, desperation, environmental injustice, absolute corruption and chaos. There must be understanding and expertise on Board members of the character of the problem and the remedies to be applied. Political passion and ethnic prejudice should have no part.
Finally, IHRHL calls on Mr. President never to short-change the developmental objectives of the NDDC by subjecting it to the control of a Niger Delta Ministry that have yet to show signs of effectiveness and efficiency in the administration of the affairs of the region. An independent NDDC with a clearly measurable, streamlined action plan is most necessary for a productive and sustainable development of the region, rather than tying it to further ministerial bureaucracy and its attendant corruption, presently bedeviling it. The two agencies must relate, cooperate, but none should control the other in the interest of the progressive and sustainable development and human security in the region.
It is important for the first time, that Civil Society group is represented as of right on the new Board of the NDDC, if for no other reason, to maintain a performance monitoring role on behalf of the peoples of the region. It is noteworthy that critical Civil Society groups in the region played a pivotal advocacy role in the emergence of the NDDC, especially so, in the introduction of Governance as subject-matter n the existing Master-plan of the NDDC.
Anyakwee NsirimovuExecutive Director