After over three years of flip-flops, the federal government yesterday inaugurated the Governing Board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
The new board has as its Chairman, former aide to President Muhammadu Buhari, Mrs. Lauretta Onochie and Chief Samuel Ogbukwu as Managing Director.
The inauguration, which came barely few months to the end of the tenure of the Buhari’s Administration, has being enmeshed in numerous crisis with pending court cases at the Federal High Court.
Inaugurating the board in Abuja, the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Mr. Umana Umana, urged the board to immediately hit the ground running by implementing recommendations of the Report of the Forensic Audit of the Commission carried out in 2019.
Umana specifically charged the board to look into, “allegations of irregular employment from 2019 and follow up on the ongoing personal audit in the Commission to make sure all cases of employment during the period under review were in accordance with extant rules and regulations of the service.”
Besides, the minister stressed the need for the board and the management to strictly adhere by the procurement Act as well as the financial regulations to ensure prudence in the management of limited resources.
“Every contract above the threshold of management is to be referred to the Ministerial Tender Board of the Federal Executive Council.
“Any breach of contract approval limits will attract severe sanctions.”
Umana, who encouraged members to focus on the completion of ongoing projects, advised them to shun the lure of the “award of spurious and indiscriminate new contracts”, so as to help in repairing the negative public perception of the NDDC.
In his remarks, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha, noted that the Inauguration of the new board would not have been possible without the collaboration of the National Assembly.
Mustapha, who was represented by a former Permanent Secretary, Mrs. Habiba Lawal, accordingly charged members of the new board to bring all their expertise to bear to transform the lives and environment of the region.
He added that the board should endeavour to be transparent and follow due diligence in all its activities so as to restore the hope and resilience of the Niger Delta people in the Commission.
Meanwhile, new Chairman of the board, Ms. Lauretta Onochie, has appealed to Nigerians, especially people from the Niger Delta region to accord them the necessary support needed to deliver on their mandates.
She assured that the board has put in place a template for the speedy development of the socioeconomic development of the region.
While assuring of positive changes, Onochie noted that, “we cannot continue to work with failed templates and get a different result.”
She said, “we are going to do things totally different so that the people of Niger Delta can benefit from what Nigeria has been investing in the region. In the past many investments in the Niger Delta have found its way to Abuja, London, Dubai and elsewhere.”
Alex Enumah in Abuja