NDDC: POLITICS OF MISMANAGING PUBLIC FUND?
BY: IFEANYI IZEZE
As at today, the only federal government’s, road to addressing the infrastructural and human development issues that gave rise to the current militant confrontations in the Niger Delta region runs through the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC). However, it is an understatement to say that the road itself is in a state of total disrepair and also seems to have commenced gradual lethal infection of whatever good intention (if at all) the federal government had when it announced the creation of the Niger Delta Ministry.
The NDDC as packaged by the federal government was supposed to be a development intervention agency instituted to execute projects and programmes to alleviate the plight of the neglected and terribly battered peoples of the Niger Delta. But today, the supposed intervention agency is in dire need of an intervention to save it from self destruction. Now all the tiers of government need to intervene to save NDDC from itself.
Since inception, the NDDC has remained an arena of Machiavellian politics. Rather than honestly focused on pushing the enabling statutory mandate of developing the region, people in and around the NDDC seem to be more concerned with the act of using clever trickery, amoral methods, and expediency to achieve desired political and fraudulent goals.
Remarkably, this act of treachery is not a new game in the NDDC but either by omission or commission had been ignored since it first manifested. Chief Onyema Ugochukwu, the first Chairman of the agency suffered it. Godwin Omene, the organisation’s first managing director also was edged out of the system in a treacherous manner.
Few years back, Ambassador Sam Edem narrowly escaped the first attempt to edge him out of the system when almost all the directors were mobilized against his continued stay in the agency. All keen watchers of the Machiavellian politics in the NDDC knew that the story of the burning of N700 million by a native at a cemetery in Port Harcourt was a re-hatched scene in the staggered effort to sweep the Ambassador out of the system. Of course, that actually produced the set goal after the native doctor from Bayelsa confessed that he was engaged by the Akwa Ibom -born Edem to kill one of the top management executive.
The former managing director of the NDDC, Chief Emmanuel Aguarivwado was also a victim of this same treachery in the place.
The recent widely circulated allegations of massive fraud against the boss of the agency, Timi Alaibe may yet be another scene in the game in which the NDDC has come to be known for. He was linked with massive looting of NDDC funds.
According to the media report, “a petition detailing a web of massive looting and money laundering involving the Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Mr. Ndutimi Alaibe is currently under the scrutiny of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
“The petition submitted by a group which preferred to be referred to as Concerned Niger Deltans accused the NDDC Managing Director of personalizing the activities of the agency and using cronies to milk the agency of its financial resources.”
It is noteworthy that the group that submitted the petition to the EFCC “preferred” to be referred to as something they may not actually be- “Concerned Niger Deltans.”
Patriotic as the weighty allegations against the NDDC boss may have looked, a paragraph in the report gave away the actual intention of the widely published petition.
Hear this: “Mr. Timi Alaibe in his usual style will destroy the newly created Niger Delta Ministry and frame up Ufot Ekaette the new Niger Delta Minister.”
The above statement is where the real story lies. From obvious indications, it looks like a replay of the now familiar scene in the NDDC Machiavellian drama act.
Although the allegations of some attempts to remove Ekaette may have been concocted, unfolding events that followed concerning who should head the new Ministry of Niger Delta seems to be pointing to the truism of the allegation of suffocating Ufot Ekaette as the new Niger Delta Minister and subsequently replacing him with someone some groups believe is better informed to handle the assignment.
Nigerian newspapers have been awash with all kinds of publications for/ against Alaibe and Ekaette on the matter.
Commendably, the NDDC boss dissociated himself from an Ijaw group that called the immediate removal of Ekaette and replacing him with Timi Alaibe on the grounds that the NDDC boss is well schooled on the issues at the crux of the Niger Delta struggle. Alaibe personally denied knowledge of the group nor involvement in their campaign against Ekaette.
Also, Ekaette’s people seem not to be keeping quite on the matter. They have vowed (in another publication) that any attempt to replace Ekaette with Alaibe would spell dire consequences for the federal government in its quest to solve the Niger Delta problem.
In one of their publications (Onnah Youths Assembly) in some national dailies clearly stated that: “We hasten to advise Ekaette to beware of that banana peel in the NDDC, which is now a subsidiary of the Niger Delta Ministry, taking into account what has happened to others there, particularly now that there are certain elements, sponsored or self imposed, that appear to be pained about his appointment from the outset. We know that is only the Almighty that gives power and positions to those he wills. He has given it to Ekaette and no Jupiter can take it away, no matter who is behind the agenda.”
It is very pathetic that “My people perish for lack of knowledge.” When the 2009 budget was presented to the joint session of the National Assembly, I saw the clear in-built mischief in the relationship between the NDDC and the Ministry of Niger Delta. I sounded a loud alarm in an analysis captioned: “Niger Delta in 2009 Budget: FG’s Perfect Set up for Blackmail.”
Core issues speculated in the article are beginning to happen faster than anticipated. Now except by divine intervention to clear his mind, Ufot Ekaette and maybe his Minister of State naturally, will view every move by Alaibe with a focused mindset of suspicion. All these would be to the detriment of the battered Niger Delta region and its real people as resources meant for the development of the region would be massively “invested” in the fight of who heads what. God bless Niger Delta.
IFEANYI IZEZE IS AN ABUJA -BASED CONSULTANT ON POLITICAL STRATEGY AND GRASSROOT CONSULTATION ( firstname.lastname@example.org )