By Our Correspondent
Ijaw youths have appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately sack the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and inaugurate a substantive board for the commission.
The youths under the auspices of the Ijaw Youths Council (IYC) Worldwide said the IMC had outlived its usefulness and should not be allowed to remain in office.
The IYC in a statement issued in Port Harcourt, Rivers State on Tuesday by its President, Peter Timothy Igbifa, said the committee led by Prof. Keme Pondei, had been lackluster and uninspiring since its appointment by Buhari on October 30, 2019.
Igbifa said the IYC and other stakeholders in the region were earlier against appointing an interim committee for NDDC following their beliefs that some powerful forces would not allow it discharge its responsibilities for the region.
He said even persons, who earlier supported the idea, had seen a huge disconnect between the present committee and the people of the Niger Delta region.
Igbifa said the initial reason that the IMC was necessary to seamlessly drive the forensic audit of the commission could no longer be justified and called on Buhari not to allow the committee stat a day longer in the office.
The IYC boss said: “The Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) Worldwide believes strongly that the present Interim Management Committee of the NDDC has outlived its usefulness and does not have anything new to add to the development of the Niger Delta region.
“The lackluster and uninspiring performance of the Interim Management of the Commission is glaring for all to see.
“When President Muhammadu Buhari appointed the Interim Management Committee on the 30th of October, 2019 to oversee the activities of the Commission as the forensic auditors carry on their assignment, so many persons in the region were not pleased with the idea of appointing an Interim Management Committee, knowing that they will be hamstrung by the powers that be from effectively discharging their responsibility to the people of the region.
“Today even the doubting Thomases will agree that there is a huge disconnect between the people, their developmental needs and what the present Interim Management Committee is doing in the Commission.
“One of the primary reasons that was given for the appointment of the present Interim Management Committee by those that facilitated the installation of the current illegal contraption; which negates the NDDC Act is to the effect that, the audit assignment should be done without any interference.
“Of course we don’t have any problem with that, but as a council and a prominent voice in the region, we are at a loss to the effect that, there is no audit going on in the NDDC, even if there is, that does not stop the President from inaugurating a substantive Board.”
Igbifa recalled instances forensic audits were carried out in major government institutions without disrupting the legally established management structure of such agencies.
He said: “We have had instances in this country where forensic audits were carried out in major government institutions, yet it didn’t necessitate the appointment of Interim Management Committees.
“For instance in 2014 when the former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan brought an International Accounting firm, Price Water House Coopers ( PWC) to conduct a detailed investigation into the account and activities of the NNPC, that did not warrant the then President to dismantle the substantive Board and appoint an Interim Management Committee.”
“As leaders of the region, we are greatly concerned that, successive Nigerian governments that enjoy uninterrupted flow of petro – dollar from the ancestral lands of the people of the region are always taking the people for granted.
“The essence of the commission is to develop and empower the people of the region, but it is fast becoming a mirage and the people of the Niger Delta are living in hopelessness, want , squalor and misery.”
He insisted that the youths were no longer comfortable with the IMC and threatened to occupy the NDDC if Buhari failed to urgently inaugurate a substantive board.
Igbifa warned that retaining the present leadership of the commission would provoke unimaginable reactions from the people of the region.
He said: “The council is no longer comfortable with the present Interim agreement in the commission and demands the inauguration of a substantive board.
“Failure to do that will leave the council will no other option but to occupy the NDDC. Inaugurating a substantive Board would not stop the forensic auditors or consultants from carrying out their job.
“If the intention of the forensic audit is for the benefit of the region and not for some self-serving purposes, then the people of the region are requesting that the inauguration of the substantive board should be done alongside the forensic audit of the Commission.
“The council will work closely with other leaders from the region to ensure that the substantive board when inaugurated works to fulfill the yearnings and aspirations of the people of the region.
“The inauguration of a substantive board in the NDDC is long overdue, and there are people in the region that take delight is ensuring that they perpetuate the era of strife, economic backwardness and injustice in the region.
“They thrive when there is pain, sorrow, underdevelopment and economic subjugation of the people of the region. For these set of people, the council is watching them closely and would react in due season.
“Retaining the present leadership in the Commission beyond today, with their glaring incompetence and inefficiency under any guise may trigger an unimaginable reaction from the people of the region; we need a substantive board and management that will be accountable to the people of the region.”