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South-south Governors Seek Substantive Board For NDDC

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South-south Governor Seek Substantive Board For NDDC

President Muhammadu Buhari has been urged to inaugurate a substantive board for the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to enable it to effectively discharge its responsibilities. The appeal came from the six governors of the South-south geopolitical zone.

The governors under the South-south Governors Forum rose from their meeting in Government House Asaba, Delta State on Monday night and decried the ongoing management structure of NDDC saying it was shortchanging the region and lacked due process.

The governors, therefore, advised Buhari that in the absence of a substantive board for the commission, funds for the NDDC beyond the payment of salaries should be put in an escrow account.

But Akpabio, who spoke at a press conference to herald the formal inauguration of the new headquarters of the NDDC in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, said most of the governors in the zone were running their local government areas with caretaker committees and lacked the moral rectitude to task Buhari on the NDDC.

Akpabio said the governors should first conduct local government elections before insisting that the president should inaugurate the board of the commission.

In a statement by the Special Assistant on Media to the Governor of Rivers State, Kelvin Ebiri, he said the Chairman of the South-south Governors Forum and Governor of Delta State , Ifeanyi Okowa read the common position of the governors at the end of the forum’s meeting.

Okowa described as worrisome the running of the NDDC in over a year by an Interim Caretaker Committee, and now, an interim administrator.

He said: “This situation does not augur well for the people of the Niger Delta as an opportunity for all states to be represented as they ought to be represented on the board of the NDDC does not exist.

“So, it means that the NDDC is actually run in such a manner that it is actually not truly beneficial to our people, because there is no stakeholders input in the running of the affairs of the NDDC.

“We do know that there is a forensic audit taking place and if that is the reason the board has not been constituted, our advice is that monies being sent to the NDDC should be put in an escrow account until a board is constituted and then proper processes are followed in the expenditure of the money in a such a way it will be visibly accountable in the best interest of the peoples of the Niger Delta.”

The governors said after the constitution of the board, the advisory council must be called upon to play its role and ensure checks and balances to guarantee value for money expended by the NDDC.

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They said: “A situation where we begin to have emergency projects that possibly will not last three to six months is not right, we don’t feel happy about it and we are urging Mr. President to ensure that if the board is not going to be immediately constituted, then funds for the NDDC beyond the payment of salaries should be put on hold until he constitutes the board and the board can now run the finances of the NDDC as per the law creating the NDDC.

“We feel already short- changed as a people in the Niger Delta and we believe that we do not wish to see this kind of situation continue going forward into the future, because our people feel the pains, we do not want a situation where there is an abuse of processes, neither should we have a situation where we have abuse of funds.

“We believe that it is best for both the country, for the states of the Niger Delta and for the people of the Niger Delta when the due process is followed by the reconstitution of the board and also in reconstituting the board, that the reconstituted funds should come in and have funds to spend as per the law.”

Further reacting, Akpabio said despite the fact that the governors were running their local government areas with caretaker committees, the federal government had never denied them funds.

He said it was abnormal for governors, who belonged to an opposition party to be giving directives to the president in a ruling party.

He said the governors were the ones, who demanded a forensic audit and should be patient to allow the conclusion of the audit before the inauguration of a board.

While saying that the audit would soon be concluded, Akpabio noted that he was not against the constitution of a board but that due process required an end to the audit before it would be put in place.

Akpabio wondered why the governors were asking of a board when such a structure managed the NDDC for 19 years without building a permanent headquarters for the commission.

He said what the ongoing management structure of the NDDC had achieved for a year, boards of 19 years could not accomplish them.

He said: “I am not aware that the governors are the ones that give directives to the president. I want to let you know that the federal government has appealed to the governors to ensure that local governments have elected representatives.

“Some governors for eight years used caretaker committees to run local government and federal government did not deny them funds. So, we are not against the formation of board for NDDC.

“But if in 19 years, an NDDC board as you call it could not produce an edifice of this nature, could not even use N150m to connect the rented office to the national grid, that will tell you that sometimes the constitution of boards have misplaced priorities.

“We are saying that there is going to be a board for the NDDC. Nobody is against the board but let us finish with the forensic audit. Boards have various interests. If I am a contractor and I nominate someone into the board, don’t you think that person will not cooperate with the forensic auditors?

“In a few months, the forensic audit will be over and the board will definitely be inaugurated. I will rather plead with the governors to ensure that they carry out local government elections. Most of the South-south states are PDP. So where is the opposition?

“How can the opposition give instructions and directives to the president who is not in the same party with them and president has a clear vision of what he wants to do? What he is doing is producing results.

“If they were happy, look at the kind of quantum leap in infrastructure across the entire country. It is not going to be easy for them to take power because of the performance of this president. So the only thing they can do is to bring all these kinds of request.

“We agree with them and we are on the same page. The south-south governors are the ones who even requested a forensic audit. Because there was no budget the forensic audit was delayed. So, my appeal is to allow the audit to end and then the board will be inaugurated.

“The board will be run by the Niger Delta people. Even the interim administrator is Niger Deltan and most of the directors are from the region and I think for now they are doing a great job. They are all qualified. If they are working and producing results let them continue to support them till the end of the audit.

“Very soon the audit will be concluded and from Monday, the auditors will be moving to the field to start measurements of abandoned projects. Soon, there will be a board.”

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Buhari Leaves For UN Assembly In US

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Buhari Leaves For UN Meeting In US

President Muhammadu Buhari will on Sunday leave Abuja for New York, United States, ahead of the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA76).

Buhari’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, disclosed this on Saturday.

Adesina noted that the session opened on Tuesday, September 14.

The statement said that the theme for this year’s UNGA is, “Building Resilience Through Hope – To Recover from COVID-19, Rebuild Sustainably, Respond to the Needs of the Planet, Respect the Rights of People and Revitalize the United Nations.”

Buhari will address the Assembly during the General Debates on Friday, September 24.

He is expected to speak on the theme of the conference and other global issues.

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It said: “In the course of the Assembly, the Nigerian leader and members of the delegation will partake in other significant meetings such as; The High-Level Meeting to Commemorate The Twentieth Anniversary of the Adoption of the Durban Declaration and Programme of

Action on the theme ‘Reparations, Racial Justice and Equality for People of African Descent.’ ”

Buhari will be accompanied to New York by Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama; Attorney General and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami (SAN); and Minister of State for Environment, Sharon Ikeazor.

 

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Presidential Candidate Dies

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Presidential Candidate Dies

A presidential candidate, Olusegun Bamgbose , who contested the last presidential election on the platform of the New Nigerian Peoples Party (NNPP) is dead.

Bamgbose who was also the National Coordinator, Concerned Advocates for Good Governance, CAGG, was the Principal Head, God’s Own Chambers, a legal team based in Aba, Abia State, died on Friday after a brief illness.

The Foundation for Environmental Rights, Advocacy & Development (FENRAD), whose legal team he headed, described Bamgbose as a strong voice on matters of good governance and human rights advocacy.

Comrade Nelson Nnanna Nwafor, Executive Director of FENRAD, in a statement, said Bamgbose was “richly endowed with political sagacity and was consistent in holding governments to account as he lent his voice to the most critical of national and local issues.

“Through his intervention and actions, government relaxed many unpopular policies. He was a fine gentleman, very hardworking, a lovely husband, father and friend to all. His humble mien, approach and disposition endeared him to many. Throughout his stay on earth, he was truly committed to the promotion and protection of environmental, human, and democracy rights which aligned with FENRAD’s goals.

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“We made many wins working together through his wise and ever-ready counsel. He led and piloted our legal department with such impeccable professionalism as a lawyer properly called.

“We are indeed pained by this loss and pray that God, in this trying time, grants his family – immediate and extended – the fortitude to bear this huge loss; same we also pray for on his friends, learned colleagues and those who by this exit are pained.

“Barr. Olusegun Bamgbose will be terribly missed .

“May his gentle soul find rest in the bosom of the Almighty. Adieu to the great iroko, an icon and a towering legal luminary!”

 

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Kidnapped NDA Major Regains Freedom

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Kidnapped NDA Major Regains Freedom

A military officer who was kidnapped during an attack on the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) in Kaduna State by bandits last month has regained his freedom.

Some gunmen suspected to be bandits broke into the Nigerian foremost military school on August 24, killed officers and abducted Major CL Datong.

The abducted major was in the kidnapper’s den till he was rescued on Friday.

The Deputy Director, Army Public Relations 1 Division, Nigerian Army, Colonel Ezindu Idimah who confirmed the development, said Datong was rescued by troops.

According to him, the operations leading to his rescue led to the destruction of several identified bandits’ camps in Afaka- Birnin Gwari areas of the state, revealing that scores of bandits were killed during the operation, particularly, in the late hours of September 17, 2021.

He said the Division in conjunction with the Air Task Force, Department of State Services and other security agencies, immediately swung into action by conducting operations in the Afaka general area to find and rescue the officer after a directive by the Chief of Army Staff.

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“The troops arrived at a camp suspected to be the location where Maj CL Datong was being held. At the camp, the troops exchanged fire with the bandits and overwhelmed them with superior fire.

“In the process, the gallant troops were able to rescue the abducted officer. However, the officer sustained a minor injury but has been treated in a medical facility and handed over to NDA for further action,” he said.

He lauded the efforts of the NAF, DSS , Nigerian Police and “patriotic Nigerians” who worked tirelessly for the release of the victim.

 

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