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Breaking: How Buhari Appointed Sole Administrator in NDDC in Compliance with Court Order

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Breaking: How Buhari Appointed Sole Administrator in NDDC in Compliance with Court Order

Breaking: How Buhari Appointed Sole Administrator in NDDC in Compliance with Court Order
December 14
18:15 2020

From the overhanging haze in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), with its credibility and reputation in tatters, a new administrator has emerged with a charge to hold the fort until things become clearer. A few days back, President Muhammadu Buhari announced the appointment of Effiong Okon Akwa as the Interim Administrator of the NDDC.

Until his new appointment, Akwa was the Acting Executive Director, Finance and Administration, of the NDDC, under the Professor Kemebradikumo Pondei-led Interim Management Committee (IMC).

According to a statement issued Saturday night by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, Akwa would henceforth oversee the affairs of the Commission till the end of the ongoing forensic auditing of the interventionist agency. “The development became necessary as a result of a plethora of litigation and a restraining order issued recently against the Interim Management Committee of the NDDC by a Federal High Court in Abuja. He is expected to assume headship till completion of the forensic audit,” Adesina said.

Early December, a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja suspended Professor Kemebradikumo Pondei, hitherto the Acting MD/CEO of the NDDC; Dr. Joi Nunieh, the former Acting MDof the Interim Management Committee of thecommission; and Cairo Ojougboh, the director of projects and others from performing the functions of the board of the NDDC. The order was granted by Justice Ahmed Mohammed in a ruling on an application by a Civil Society Organization, Forum for Accountability and Good Governance.

An interventionist agency set up with the mission to facilitate the rapid, even and sustainable development of the Niger Delta into a region that is economically prosperous, socially stable, ecologically regenerative and politically peaceful, the NDDC, unfortunately, had faltered perplexingly in the delivery of this mandate. Blinding and intolerable sleaze was the name of the game at the NDDC where the main players appropriated its treasury as their private cash-point.

Since his appointment in July 2019, Minister of Niger Delta, Senator Godswill Akapbio, has spoken extensively of how corruption among NDDC officials and contractors had prevented the commission from achieving its mandate of developing the country’s Niger Delta region. “I think people were treating the place as an ATM where you just walk in there to go and pluck money and go away, I don’t think they were looking at it as an interventionist agency,” he said.

Consequently, President Buhari had appointed Pondei, a professor of medicine at the Niger Delta University (NDU) in February 2020 as Acting MD but his tenure was dogged with controversy. Beneficiaries of NDDC scholarship overseas had complained about abandonment while there were different allegations of fraud against the agency under his watch, which led to a probe by the national assembly. On July 20, Pondei collapsed during questioning by the panel probing alleged mismanagement of N40 billion by the interim management committee of the NDDC. The hearing also spurned the national lingo ‘Off the Mic’.

Interestingly, Akwa is the only top director of the NDDC that was not involved in the corruption scandal that has swept top directors and the IMC of the NDDC away. He is described as very forthright and incorruptible, virtues that many administrators of the agency had lacked and which the president believes are needed to set the agency back on track. And because of his experience at the commission over the years while holding sensitive positions without any scandal, he is seen as a round peg in a round hole. A native of Akwa Ibom State, Akwa joined the NDDC interim management as a replacement for Ibanga Etang, the then executive director of finance and administration, who died of covid-19.

 

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