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Buhari’s threat to NDDC looters mere rhetoric, says Ijaw Congress

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The Ijaw National Congress (INC) has expressed reservations about President Muhammadu Buhari’s vow to recover Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) stolen funds.

Its president, Prof Benjamin Okaba, was of the view that the President’s promise to prosecute those found culpable in the forensic audit report is mere rhetoric.

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President Buhari had made the declaration in his address in Abuja at the virtual opening of the NDDC Prototype Hostel at the University of Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, last Thursday.

Okaba described the President’s tough-talking as mere rhetoric, stressing that there was nothing exciting about it as he (Buhari) had made similar promises in the past.

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The INC boss spoke during an interview on Arise on Sunday night.

The Professor of Sociology stated: “I won’t say I am excited by the (President’s) declaration. We expected this long ago.

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“For many Nigerians, this is just rhetoric. We have said it earlier that forensic audit should be a routine administrative process of the NDDC. It is not anything that anybody should celebrate.

“Buhari has made several promises. People have called for the audit report to be made public.

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“The issues, as they are, remain mere allegations and as a far as the INC is concerned, we have before now demanded release of the forensic audit report.

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“And for many persons that have not delivered on the assignments given to them, let appropriate actions be taken.”

Okaba called on Bihari to constitute a substantive board of the NDDC, noting that “this is the only thing that will excite us and not the promises he is making.”

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He further said: “He (the President) does not the need the permission of Nigerians to prosecute anybody found wanting. We want to see action.

“We want to see the list published, we want to see persons involved. We want to believe that that whatever is made public is the true report.

“We never demanded an intervention agency. What the Ijaw people demanded and are still demanding is resource control.

“NDDC has been a palliative and a stop-gap approach to development of the region.

“So, those who accepted NDDC in 2000 had certain reservations.”

Speaking on whether the NDDC should be scrapped, Okaba noted that although the commission had not delivered on its mandate, there was no guarantee that there would be another institution that would do better than the commission.

He said it was disturbing that the appointment of officers into the commission had been politicised and not based on competence but rather given to those close to the corridors of power.

He noted that the continuous appointment of interim administrators for the NDDC was a violation of the law establishing it.

He equally said that the politicisation of the commission had resulted in huge administrative cost to the detriment of projects delivery.

Okaba cited the drama that characterised the investigation carried out by the Senate which exposed how the commission expended funds in fighting COVID-19 in 2020.

He said that the Ijaw and Niger Delta people would continue to insist on resource control, stressing that the NDDC was bedeviled by many challenges and the forensic audit exercise was meant to unravel all the problems.

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