By Ime Silas

The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), has decried what it calls outlandish allegations by those it terms as detractors, against the Interim Management Committee, IMC of the commission.

The NDDC in a statement on Saturday, signed by Charles Obi Odili, Director, Corporate Affairs Department, said rather than trying to distract the newly inaugurated Management Committee, stakeholders from the region should join hands with the Honourable Minister, Niger Delta Affairs, Sen. Godswill Akpabio, to reposition the Commission to deliver on its assigned mandate.

The statement reads: “The attention of the Niger Delta Development Commission has been drawn to various publications by many self-serving interest groups alleging all manners of impropriety by the newly installed Interim Management Committee, IMC, of the Commission.

“The attacks are obviously targeted at Senator Godswill Akpabio, the Minister of the Niger Delta Affairs, who is driving the forensic audit ordered on the Commission by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Our fear is that in the attempt to undermine the minister’s efforts, his traducers may unwittingly be making the Commission and its mandate, a collateral damage. We are also mindful that the Interim Management Committee, made up of some of the best professional hands in the Niger Delta, should not be distracted.

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Some of the allegations are so outlandish that sane minds will ignore them. However, in order to clear any doubt in the minds of those who are likely to believe the tale of mischief makers, we are setting out the facts”.

While clarifying on the issues which it alleged were being used by some elites in the region to attack the Commission each time their selfish interests were threatened, the NDDC maintained that the forensic audit ordered by President Buhari was for the best interest of the people of the region. The Commission listed the issues thus:

The IMC of NDDC

“Payment for water hyacinth contract

The authors of the articles on various platforms are alleging that the Commission is spending billions on ‘phony water hyacinth contracts’. We state that this Interim Management Committee has neither awarded nor paid a single kobo for any water hyacinth contract.

Payment for desilting contracts

We also state unequivocally that this Interim Management Committee has not awarded or paid for any desilting contract.

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Head office project

The Interim Management committee is focused on completing the permanent headquarters project. Work is progressing satisfactorily. As a result of this commitment, it is paying the contractor for work done and on time. But for the Corona Virus, the commission would have completed the new head office this month. It beats the imagination that any person of sane mind would prefer that the Commission continues to pay rent for a temporary head office rather than complete and occupy its own.

Staff redeployment

We wish to also state that this IMC is determined to change the narrative of the Commission and its mandate. This involves reforming the commission, its processes and values. As part of the drive, the IMC has redeployed directors and other staff to new beats for operational efficiency. This redeployment was carefully done to put square pegs in square holes and also reinvigorate the team by challenging the staff to confront the challenges facing the Commission. To allude any ulterior motive to an exercise of such altruistic value it to stretch mischief too far.

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“Finally, we wish to add that the Niger Delta Development Commission exists for the good of the region. It is a great disservice to its people for a few selfish elite to go on the attack every time their attempt to corner the resources of the commission is challenged. The forensic audit ordered by President Muhammadu Buhari, which Senator Akpabio is pursuing with his uncommon passion, is for the good of all stakeholders. The greatest tragedy would be for a few elites to truncate the good intentions of the Federal Government because their access to the commonwealth is being threatened. We plead with them to allow the Interim Management Committee to do its work”.