NDDC: Stakeholders Caution Management On Usurpation Of Board’s Functions

By Frank Oshanugor

The battle of wits at the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) between the Lauretta Onochie-led Board and Management seems to have gathered some momentum as

former chairmen of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 36 States and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, known as G-37 have condemned the alleged constitutional lapses in the day to day running of the Commission.

The Board has reportedIy been sidelined in major procurement issues since the Onochie-led team was inaugurated by the Federal Government in January, this year.

The group made its stand known in a statement signed by Prophet Jones Ode Erue and Dr. Ben Nwoye, the Chairman and the Secretary respectively and made available to journalists on Thursday.

It described the efforts at usurping the functions of the Board under any disguise as a gross violation of the law that established the Commission and due process.

The stakeholders, who noted that they can no longer fold their hands and watch the ongoing administrative recklessness being perpetrated against the Board, said it was compelled to raise the alarm in order to expose the agenda of a selfish few who are bent on derailing the genuine sustainable development vision of President Muhammadu Buhari.

Specifically, the stakeholders mentioned the case of the $15billion memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the management of the Commission and a United States-based firm, Atlanta Global Resources Inc., signed recently for the construction of a mega rail line that would connect the nine states of the Niger Delta region without the consent of the Board.

It noted that the situation where the management would be carrying out such a multi billion Dollar contract and leaving the Board out was completely unacceptable, adding that these were some of the issues that tend to divide the Commission and make it difficult to deliver its mandate to better the lives of the people in the region.

It would be recalled that recently the Managing Director of Niger Delta Development Commission, Mr Samuel Ogbuku, signed an MoU on behalf of the Commission with a US-Based firm, Atlanta Global Resources Inc., for the construction of a mega rail line that would connect the nine states of the Niger Delta region.

But reacting to the MoU, the Chairman of the Commission, Lauretta Onochie, distanced herself from the controversial $15 billion contract, declaring the contract as illegal, null and void.

Onochie, in a statement, had said the NDDC Management lacked the powers to sign the MoU without the Board’s approval. She declared, “the Board’s attention has been drawn to a publication in some national dailies of the purported signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between a US firm, Atlanta Global Resources Inc. and the NDDC, whose Board I chair, for the construction of a mega rail project across the Niger Delta, from Lagos to Calabar.

“This was done without my knowledge and without the authorization, nor consent of the Board. Everything about this shady ‘MOU’ is illegal due to the act establishing the NDDC (Act No 6, of 2000); it is the Chairman of the board that is solely vested with the power to sign MOUs with any organisation.”

Reacting, the APC-G37 noted that the position of the Board Chairman represents the generality of the opinion of the people of Niger Delta region and urged the Management to act accordingly with the provisions of the enabling act setting up the Commission for the betterment of the people of the region.

The group further condemned calls for the sack of the Board’s Chairman, describing it as “an unwarranted exercise aimed at blackmailing and derailing Lauretta Onochie, who is determined to execute the vision of President Muhammadu Buhari of running a transparent and diligent Commission in line with the best global practices.”

Written by: Frank Oshanugor

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