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NDDC probe: Revelations of corruption nauseating –Gen. Ikponmwen (rtd)

•It wasn’t like this during OMPADEC days, says Etoromi

•PANDEF: IMC should step aside for proper audit of NDDC

 

Some prominent personalities in the Niger Delta region have expressed disgust about revelations of massive corruption revealed during the on-going probe of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) at the National Assembly.

 

Those who spoke with Sunday Telegraph expressed disappointment that the NDDC, which was established for the development of the oil-rich region, had become a cesspool of corruption, leaving the people in the region to continue to wallow in abject poverty amidst plenty of resources.

 

A former Provost Marshall of the Nigeria Army, Brigadier General Idada Ikponmwen (rtd) described the allegations and counter allegations between the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the NDDC and the National Assembly as disgraceful and nauseating.

 

Ikponmwen, a military strategist and lawyer, said the whole episode of the drama at the just concluded investigations into the operations of the NDDC at the two chambers of the National Assembly, had made a complete nonsense of the fight against corruption by the current administration and must not be treated with levity by all well-meaning Nigerians.

 

“At the end of the day, it will be clear to everyone watching this scenario whether at the NDDC, National Assembly or at the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) that corruption reigns supreme in these important organs of government of our country.

 

“When you look beyond these immediate incidents to the case of the former Director of Nigeria Intelligence Agency (NIA), Mr Ayo Oke, linked to the $43.4 million recovered at the Osborne Towers, Ikoyi; the Babachir episode involving N200m grass-cutting contract; the Pension Funds scandal involving Abdulrasheed Maina and several other cases of corruption, you will discover that the anti-corruption fight has failed to achieve its purpose.

 

“The current administration rode to power on the mantra of change, with fight against corruption as one of its cardinal programmes. It said it will kill corruption because if we don’t kill it, corruption will kill Nigeria.

 

With what is happening, is corruption not killing Nigeria now instead of Nigeria killing corruption? “The practice whereby members of the National  Assembly have become contractors to the NDDC is a very pathetic situation. It makes a joke of all the declared intention by the government to repair the country,” he said.

 

Ikponmwen warned against treating the malaise manifesting at the NDDC with the usual approach of hinging the solutions on amendment of the NDDC Act and removing it from the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs and returning it to the Presidency as, according to him, these options would provide nothing but cosmetic remedies.

 

“If I say let us reform our laws, which will not be deep enough because I don’t think our laws as they are presently support fraud. We have the Public Procurement Act which spells out the processes and procedures of awarding contracts but we have not developed the ethics of good behaviour, good conduct and the culture of holding people in public office accountable and responsible for what they do.

 

We have not developed the habit of holding people in public office liable for their misconducts and abuse of the system. “It is unheard of that members of the National Assembly, who are full time members of the legislative arm of the government will leave their parliamentary responsibilities and be going about as contractors to the NDDC.

 

This is gross irresponsibility because those who are supposed to oversee the activities, operations and management of the agency can no longer exercise that constitutional responsibility because their hands are soiled. How can you check the excesses of those managing the agency when you are neck-deep in the mismanagement of the same agency?

 

What would they now say to the management of the NDDC if they go on oversight? “It is good that the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, has challenged the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Chief Godswill Akpabio to publish the list of those involved in taking contracts from NDDC, but Gbajabiamila or any other person in the National Assembly can say in good conscience that the assertion made by Akpabio is not true.

 

 

“What I am saying is that it is true that the legislators are the ones collecting contracts from government establishments, especially organisations that fall under their legislative oversight. You know there are committees on every aspect of our governance system in the National Assembly.

 

There is Committee on Police, Committee on Army, Committee on Navy, Committee on Petroleum, Committee on Education and so on and so forth.

 

“So these people go into institutions under their supervision or oversight and corner all the contracts available in these places. Do they think Nigerians do not know these things? So no matter what they say or do, Nigerians know that Akpabio was telling the truth,” he said.

 

 

Ikponmwen argued that the Nigerian presidential system of government is built on the principle of checks and balances which gave the legislature the power to oversee the other arms of the government and vice versa.

 

 

He, however, said that with the involvement of the legislature in contracts all over the place, the governance system has lost a very important ingredient which could have promoted good governance and strengthened democracy.

 

 

 

On the forensic audit which the President ordered to sanitise the NDDC, Ikponmwen said that given the allegations and counter allegations among key stakeholders, namely the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the NDDC and members of the National Assembly, the best way forward would be for these individuals to hands off the forensic audit.

 

He said that there cannot be a truly forensic audit of the NDDC when people whose conducts have shown them as interested parties are allowed to superintend over the exercise.

 

 

Ikponmwen said that besides the forensic audit of the NDDC, the Federal Government should institute an independent commission of inquiry into the contract scam and general mismanagement of the agency from its inception nearly two decades ago.

 

 

Meanwhile, some prominent people in the Niger Delta region have expressed their opinions about the ongoing probe of the NDDC at the National Assembly.

 

 

A former military officer and former Chief Security Officer of the defunct Oil Mineral Producing Areas Development Commission (OMPADEC), Satchie Etoromi, described the attitude of syphoning public funds at the commission, as shameful and mindless. Etoromi called on President Muhammadu Buhari and the National Assembly committee probing the commission not to spare the perpetrators, saying that they must be brought to book.

 

“It was not like this at the OMPADEC which metamorphosed to NDDC. Instead of using the funds to develop the region, those at the helm of affairs who are behind this heinous attitude are unfortunately from the region.

 

The outcome of the investigation should not be swept under the carpet,” said Etoromi, a senior Chief in Warri kingdom.

 

Similarly, the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) expressed worries over the disgraceful acts exhibited in the commission that is supposed to develop the oil-rich region. National Publicity Secretary of the forum, Mr Ken Robinson, said: “The whole thing boils down to leadership.

 

Sadly the mindless leadership appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari, have rubbished the set goals and objectives of the President to truly develop the region.”

 

Human rights activist, Sheriff Mulade, contended that the heinous offence should not be swept under the carpet, insisting that those found guilty should be brought to justice. He revealed that a multimillion naira contract proposed to be executed in Gbaramatu Kingdom was abandoned, stressing that the leadership of the Commission should step aside while the probe continues.

 

 

“They should not interfere with the on-going probe so that the forensic auditors can do a thorough investigation and come out with credible results,” he said.

 

Some prominent personalities in the Niger Delta region have expressed disgust about revelations of massive corruption revealed during the on-going probe of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) at the National Assembly.

 

Those who spoke with Sunday Telegraph expressed disappointment that the NDDC, which was established for the development of the oil-rich region, had become a cesspool of corruption, leaving the people in the region to continue to wallow in abject poverty amidst plenty of resources.

 

A former Provost Marshall of the Nigeria Army, Brigadier General Idada Ikponmwen (rtd) described the allegations and counter allegations between the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the NDDC and the National Assembly as disgraceful and nauseating.

 

Ikponmwen, a military strategist and lawyer, said the whole episode of the drama at the just concluded investigations into the operations of the NDDC at the two chambers of the National Assembly, had made a complete nonsense of the fight against corruption by the current administration and must not be treated with levity by all well-meaning Nigerians.

 

“At the end of the day, it will be clear to everyone watching this scenario whether at the NDDC, National Assembly or at the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) that corruption reigns supreme in these important organs of government of our country.

 

“When you look beyond these immediate incidents to the case of the former Director of Nigeria Intelligence Agency (NIA), Mr Ayo Oke, linked to the $43.4 million recovered at the Osborne Towers, Ikoyi; the Babachir episode involving N200m grass-cutting contract; the Pension Funds scandal involving Abdulrasheed Maina and several other cases of corruption, you will discover that the anti-corruption fight has failed to achieve its purpose.

 

“The current administration rode to power on the mantra of change, with fight against corruption as one of its cardinal programmes. It said it will kill corruption because if we don’t kill it, corruption will kill Nigeria. With what is happening, is corruption not killing Nigeria now instead of Nigeria killing corruption?

 

 

 

 

 

 

“The practice whereby members of the National  Assembly have become contractors to the NDDC is a very pathetic situation. It makes a joke of all the declared intention by the government to repair the country,” he said.

 

Ikponmwen warned against treating the malaise manifesting at the NDDC with the usual approach of hinging the solutions on amendment of the NDDC Act and removing it from the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs and returning it to the Presidency as, according to him, these options would provide nothing but cosmetic remedies.

 

“If I say let us reform our laws, which will not be deep enough because I don’t think our laws as they are presently support fraud. We have the Public Procurement Act which spells out the processes and procedures of awarding contracts but we have not developed the ethics of good behaviour, good conduct and the culture of holding people in public office accountable and responsible for what they do. We have not developed the habit of holding people in public office liable for their misconducts and abuse of the system.

 

“It is unheard of that members of the National Assembly, who are full time members of the legislative arm of the government will leave their parliamentary responsibilities and be going about as contractors to the NDDC. This is gross irresponsibility because those who are supposed to oversee the activities, operations and management of the agency can no longer exercise that constitutional responsibility because their hands are soiled. How can you check the excesses of those managing the agency when you are neck-deep in the mismanagement of the same agency?

 

What would they now say to the management of the NDDC if they go on oversight? “It is good that the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, has challenged the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Chief Godswill Akpabio to publish the list of those involved in taking contracts from NDDC, but Gbajabiamila or any other person in the National Assembly can say in good conscience that the assertion made by Akpabio is not true.

 

“What I am saying is that it is true that the legislators are the ones collecting contracts from government establishments, especially organisations that fall under their legislative oversight. You know there are committees  on every aspect of our governance system in the National Assembly.

 

There is Committee on Police, Committee on Army, Committee on Navy, Committee on Petroleum, Committee on Education and so on and so forth. “So these people go into institutions under their supervision or oversight and corner all the contracts available in these places.

 

Do they think Nigerians do not know these things? So no matter what they say or do, Nigerians know that Akpabio was telling the truth,” he said.

 

Ikponmwen argued that the Nigerian presidential system of government is built on the principle of checks and balances which gave the legislature the power to oversee the other arms of the government and vice versa. He, however, said that with the involvement of the legislature in contracts all over the place, the governance system has lost a very important ingredient which could have promoted good governance and strengthened democracy.

 

On the forensic audit which the President ordered to sanitise the NDDC, Ikponmwen said that given the allegations and counter allegations among key stakeholders, namely the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the NDDC and members of the National Assembly, the best way forward would be for these individuals to hands off the forensic audit.

 

He said that there cannot be a truly forensic audit of the NDDC when people whose conducts have shown them as interested parties are allowed to superintend over the exercise. Ikponmwen said that besides the forensic audit of the NDDC, the Federal Government should institute an independent commission of inquiry into the contract scam and general mismanagement of the agency from its inception nearly two decades ago. Meanwhile, some prominent people in the Niger Delta region have expressed their opinions about the ongoing probe of the NDDC at the National Assembly.

 

A former military officer and former Chief Security Officer of the defunct Oil Mineral Producing Areas Development Commission (OMPADEC), Satchie Etoromi, described the attitude of syphoning public funds at the commission, as shameful and mindless. Etoromi called on President Muhammadu Buhari and the National Assembly committee probing the commission not to spare the perpetrators, saying that they must be brought to book.

 

“It was not like this at the OMPADEC which metamorphosed to NDDC. Instead of using the funds to develop the region, those at the helm of affairs who are behind this heinous attitude are unfortunately from the region.

 

 

 

The outcome of the investigation should not be swept under the carpet,” said Etoromi, a senior Chief in Warri kingdom. Similarly, the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) expressed worries over the disgraceful acts exhibited in the commission that is supposed to develop the oil-rich region. National Publicity Secretary of the forum, Mr Ken Robinson, said: “The whole thing boils down to leadership. Sadly the mindless leadership appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari, have rubbished the set goals and objectives of the President to truly develop the region.”

 

Human rights activist, Sheriff Mulade, contended that the heinous offence should not be swept under the carpet, insisting that those found guilty should be brought to justice. He revealed that a multimillion naira contract proposed to be executed in Gbaramatu Kingdom was abandoned, stressing that the leadership of the Commission should step aside while the probe continues.

 

“They should not interfere with the on-going probe so that the forensic auditors can do a thorough investigation and come out with credible results,” he said.

 

 

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