The ongoing probe of the financial records of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) is “just a drama”, the President-General of Urhobo Progress Union (UPU), Moses Taiga, has said.
Mr Taiga, who spoke on Saturday with journalists in Lagos, said he did not expect “anything good” to come out of the probe of the intervention agency by the National Assembly, and the forensic audit ordered by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The probe by the National Assembly has been bedeviled by controversies, including corruption allegations and counter-allegations.
The National Assembly accused the NDDC interim management of mismanagement of funds.
The NDDC on its parts has repeatedly accused federal lawmakers of grabbing several of the commission’s contracts worth billions of naira.
Peter Nwaoboshi, a serving senator, was accused two months ago of using 11 companies as fronts to secure for himself N3.6 billion contract from the commission in 2016. The contract, the commission said, was not fully executed and that no refund was made for it.
The acting managing director of the NDDC, Kemebradikumo Pondei, fainted at a public hearing by the House of Representatives committee on NDDC in July.
“It is a shame that what we all fought for to improve the well-being of the people who produce the wealth of this nation is being abused. I don’t expect to see anything good from the issue of this probe as it is just a drama. We have seen this type of thing before,” the Urhobo union leader, Mr Taiga said.
“We are waiting for the result of the forensic audit which I don’t believe anything good will come out from.
“The issue is that NDDC had always lacked good leadership. If the leadership is firm and proper and contracts are given out properly and educated people, who know how to run institutions take charge, things will be different.
“I am talking from experience because I started my career working for the Nigerian Industrial Development Bank. Development institutions need to be run and organised by people who are trained in that direction.”
Mr Taiga called on Mr Buhari to swear in Bernard Okumagba as the managing director of NDDC.
Mr Okumagba, from Delta State, was among the 15 persons whose nomination by Mr Buhari for the NDDC board were confirmed by the Senate since November last year.
The inauguration of the board has, however, been stalled by the appointment of an interim management committee to run the commission.
Mr Taiga also called on the federal government to urgently provide infrastructure in Urhobo land.
“I am looking at what is happening with the Urhobo nation. I am calling on the federal government to provide infrastructure which is our fair share. I am not looking beyond the nation of Urhobo, the fourth largest tribe in this country. We are not being fairly treated.
“I am demanding infrastructural development for the Urhobo area. I am demanding adequate utilisation of our resources – gas, to give us electricity.
“All the oil companies operating in our area should come back. Federal government is even insisting that oil companies should go back to their areas of production. We are calling on Shell to come back to Urhobo land. We are calling on Chevron to expand its activities to include Urhobo land. We are calling on Seplat to continue production activities in Urhoboland and we are calling on Heritage to come to do same,” he said.
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