NDDC And The Need For PMB To Maintain Neutrality

By Bala Ibrahim

History has recorded President Muhammadu Buhari as the single Nigerian that has surpassed everyone, living and dead, in occupying more public offices, and who, by the special grace of God, came out of them clinically clean all through.

Buhari is the only Nigerian lucky enough to have been a Governor, a Minister and a Head state. He is also the first and last Nigerian to head the richest parastatal in Nigeria, the PTF.

In the military, records show that he was the General Officer Commanding, GOC, in virtually all the commands before becoming the Commander in Chief. This is a rare feat that is not only widely known, but specially valued for it’s uncommonness.

All these are attributed to his good sense of justice and the rational of getting and giving to Caesar what is due to Caesar.

Fairness demands and dictates that, those who give fair share of goods, always get what they deserve, which is a fair share of good life.

Since his famous speech at the podium on his second inauguration, where he said, “I belong to everybody and I belong to nobody”, PMB’s actions and inactions have become subjects of extreme scrutiny, especially when it comes to appointments into the offices of the Federal Government.

Depending on who gets what, the President constantly comes under attack by some, of dishing out skewed appointments, to favor some and frustrate others.

But because Nigeria’s political history is replete with great acts of exemplary leadership, and same history has recorded Buhari’s name amongst those that have, at critical moments, managed to pull the country back from the precipice, the second and final term of the President is the time for him to be more circumspect, by being wary and refusing to take avoidable risks that may mar his reputation.

At the time the world is congratulating the Buhari administration and the 9th Assembly, for passing the long awaited Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), which contains strong transparency and accountability provisions for better performance in Nigeria’s oil sector, there is palpable tension and fear in the oil producing region, following the inability of the government to constitute a substantive board for the Niger Delta Development Commission,(NDDC).

In the smooth and accelerated passage of the PIB, special credit must be given to the Deputy Senate President, Sen.Ovie Omo Agege, who was unceasingly intense in the pursuit for it’s timely passage.

However, while many stakeholders are celebrating, another segment in the oil producing region is agonizing, with cries of being subjected to great physical and mental pains, because of the refusal of the government to constitute a substantive board for the NDDC.

It may be recalled that, the former leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), Chief Government Ekpemupolo, otherwise known as Tompolo, has warned that unless the government hasten the constitution of the board, peace would soon evade the region.

Although I don’t subscribe to the idea of threats and the expression of intention to inflict evil or injury to anyone, it is important for the government to handle the issues of the region with special concern, particularly when there are accusations of connivance between the ministry of Niger Delta Affairs and some multinational oil companies, with a view to frustrating the people’s legitimate ambition of getting good democratic dividends.

The major borne of contention or principal issue of disagreement is the failure to abide by the promise of a date given by the minister, Senator Godswill Akpabio, who told stakeholders and agitators in the region, that President Muhammadu Buhari would inaugurate a new board for the NDDC in June 2021. It’s now July and the government has not kept to that promise.

For the President and his established record of honesty and strong moral principles, this is an unwanted dent that could fuel more tension in the oil producing area.

According to a statement from Mallam Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, the President has pledged that the board would be inaugurated as soon as the forensic audit report is submitted and accepted.

‘‘Based on the mismanagement that had previously bedeviled the NDDC, a forensic audit was set up and the result is expected by the end of July, 2021. I want to assure you that as soon as the forensic audit report is submitted and accepted, the NDDC Board will be inaugurated.”- Mallam Garba Shehu.

While the public is awaiting the President’s action, the general expectation is that, in constituting the board, PMB would ensure the maintenance of neutrality, by sticking to the recommendation of the National Assembly, which has long screened and cleared some people for various positions, incliding that of the Managing Director.

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