Akpoebide Okotiene, President and Edet Ekpenyong, Secretary, Niger Delta Integrity Group puncture the insinuation that the Senate-confirmed Board of the Niger Delta Development Commission was dissolved by President Muhammadu Buhari
Our attention has been drawn to a news report in some newspapers such as The Guardian, Thisday and Vanguard newspapers of Thursday, July 22, 2021, credited to Rita Lori Ogbebor wherein false and dubious claims were made by her that the substantive Board of the NDDC, which is currently awaiting inauguration was disbanded in 2019 based on a court case instituted by her against its inauguration. She went further to request that the illegal interim contraption that has been in place in the NDDC for close to two years now should be allowed to continue running the NDDC until they are able to conclude the forensic audit which has been on for close to two years.
There was no dissolution or "disbandment" of the Senate Confirmed NDDC Board, as falsely claimed by Rita Lori Ogbebor, as it had not been inaugurated. There is also no court order or judgement against the inauguration of the Board appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari since it was confirmed by the Senate on November 5, 2019.
Rita Lori Ogbegbor is clearly acting for interests whose sole aim is to continue to foster the illegal and illegitimate interim contraptions that have held sway in the NDDC for close to two years now. It is very clear that Lori-Ogbebor is working for persons who want to perpetuate the interim management contraption at the NDDC, in opposition to the clearly-stated demands and expectations of Niger Deltans from across the ethnic nationalities and the nine constituent states.
Her assertion is against the spirit and aspiration of Niger Deltans who have asked why the NDDC Board cannot be put in place in compliance with the NDDC Act while the forensic audit of the period up to 2019 is ongoing.
People like Rita Lori Ogbebor have deployed falsehood to build a nest of unearned and undeserved privileges over the years by feasting in falsehood, acrimony and division. A decent society cannot allow her to continue to spew lies to deliberately interfere with the legitimate process of governance.
Rita Lori Ogbebor claimed that the Governing Board of the NDDC which was appointed by the President in October 2019 and confirmed by the Nigerian Senate on November 5, 2019 was stood down on account of the false claims made by her clique following lawsuits launched by them. This is capital falsehood. The truth is that the so-called claims made by her and her cohorts have not been upheld anywhere because they are false claims. All her claims do not hold water and are intended to fraudulently ambush the legitimate process. Her strategy is to throw up inaccurate, unfounded, claims with the aim of misleading the public and institutions.
The facts are very clear and indisputable. What happened in the case of the NDDC Governing Board, which was appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari in October 2019 is that after the nominees were screened and confirmed by the Nigerian Senate on the 5th of November 2019, Mr President asked that the inauguration of the Board should be put on hold pending the completion of the forensic audit, for which an Interim Management Committee was appointed for the NDDC. The Federal Government announced during the inauguration ceremony of the IMC that the Senate-confirmed NDDC Board will be inaugurated after the forensic audit. The decision to step down the inauguration of the Senate-confirmed Board was not due to any court case. There was no dissolution of the Senate-confirmed Board as it had not been inaugurated, nor was it disbanded.
President Muhammadu Buhari has already nominated a Board for the NDDC in October 2019 whose members were vetted by all relevant agencies of the federal government following which they were screened and confirmed by the Nigerian Senate on November 5 2019. They are only now waiting to be inaugurated. Mr President has restated his intention to inaugurate the Board on the completion of the forensic audit by the end of July 2021.
On the 24th day of June 2021, while receiving the Ijaw National Congress at the State House in Abuja, President Buhari said that the NDDC Board would be inaugurated as soon as the forensic audit report is submitted and accepted.
The president said: "Based on the mismanagement that had previously bedeviled the NDDC, a forensic audit was set up and the result is expected by the end of July, 2021. I want to assure you that as soon as the forensic audit report is submitted and accepted, the NDDC Board will be inaugurated."
It is therefore very clear from the above that Rita Lori-Ogbebor is telling lies and not speaking for the Niger Delta people nor acting in our best interest. We therefore urge the general public, stakeholders and Niger Deltans to ignore her ignominious deception, anti-people statements and meddlesome outbursts as we await the earnest inauguration of the NDDC Board to ensure fair representation of the nine constituent states, accountability in the utilisation of the NDDC funds, checks and balances and due process in the Commission in compliance with the NDDC Act.