Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) on Friday, October 14, 2022, cautioned President Muhammadu Buhari against the appointment of another interim administrator for the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC). A strong-worded statement from the association described as illegal the transfer of the supervisory purview of the NDDC to the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs which directly violates the enabling Act that set up the Commission.
The statement signed by HURIWA’s national coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, stated inter alia that: “Section 7 subsection 3 of the NDDC Act is specifically unambiguous and certain that the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is to have direct supervision of NDDC. But since 2016, this President abdicated that statutory duty and left it in the hands of the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs which is unknown to the extant NDDC Act.”
Underscoring how disregarded the NDDC has become in this current administration, HURIWA noted that the Forensic Audit Report on NDDC and the White Paper on the report are yet to see the light of day.
“This whole negligence is a result of the underhand suppression by the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs. This negligence and administrative bottlenecks must be dismantled,” Onwubiko stated.
Recent reports have dwelt on a plot purportedly by the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Mr Umana Okon Umana, to appoint another interim administrator to oversee the affairs of NDDC with stakeholders, under the umbrella of the Centre for Fairness and Accountability (CEFA), accusing the minister of colluding with enemies of the region to undermine the relatively peaceful coexistence in the region.
HURIWA kicked against the alleged proposed appointment of another interim administrator, noting that any action relating to NDDC made by the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs is null and void because the law states clearly that the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is the direct supervisor of the Niger Delta Development Commission and therefore all letters authored by the minister are illegal.
The concept of interim administratorship, the association noted, has been used to siphon money and entrench corruption.
“One is curious to ask why the North-East Development Commission that came up just two years back is not under the supervisory purview of any minister and why NDDC which is far older treated like an abandoned project in clear breach of an extant law?” Onwubiko articulated, urging the President to “sit up to his responsibility and oversee the NDDC correctly and provide leadership as he ought to.”
HURIWA by its statement was asking President Buhari to comply with the NDDC Act within 74 hours, Onwubiko affirmed.
“We want to ask President Muhammadu Buhari to adhere to that law or be sued within the stipulated pre-litigation notice period,” he said declaring HURIWA’s readiness to get the Federal High Court to grant a mandamus to compel compliance.
“Already our team of legal practitioners are putting finishing touches to our litigation should the illegality be left unchecked with immediate effect,” he concluded.
You are NDDC supervisor, not Niger Delta Minister – HURIWA to Buhari