A CALL FOR DISCIPLINE AND RESTRUCTURE OF THE NDDC
The Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law (IHRHL) has received the news of impunity, misappropriation, mismanagement, contract racketeering, diversion of funds and corruption perpetrated by public officials at the Niger Delta Development Commission from various media institutions in the country.
The IHRHL is not shocked at the implosions and revelations emanating from the development agency.
We ordinarily would have been surprised if reports from the NDDC portray her to be an agency that has integrity, is accountable, obeys the rule of law, follows due process in contract awards and procurement etc.
The NDDC is a Federal Government Agency established by then President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2000 with the sole mandate of developing the oil-producing Niger Delta Region of Nigeria.
From the inception of NDDC till date, there has been one news of corruption, one form of impunity or another in the litany of administrations that had manned the agency.
Sometime in 2004, with the collaboration of civil society organizations and other technical partners, NDDC unveiled its development masterplan for the oil-rich Niger Delta with a firm pledge to create 800,000 jobs in four years amongst other projections. The said master plan was shoved under the dirty rugs of the agency.
The mismanagement of funds and opportunities by the agency has sustained the impoverishment of the poor people of the region and enriched the very rich public officials, ministers, parliamentarians and politicians who illegally and immorally influence contracts and opportunities to suit their needs without recourse to due process. This ugly scenario has left the region where it was and still is, UNDERDEVELOPED.
Part 1 S. 1 of the Code of Conduct for Public Officers stipulates that a public officer shall not put himself in a position where his personal interest conflicts with his duties and responsibilities.
The International Community, concerned that the illicit acquisition of personal wealth can be particularly damaging to democratic institutions, national economies and the rule of law, enacted the UN Convention against Corruption which stipulates amongst others, that each state party shall consider taking in accordance with its fundamental principles of its domestic law, disciplinary or other measures against public officials who violate the codes or standards established in accordance with this article.
In line with this convention, IHRHL calls on The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to direct the anti-corruption agencies to prosecute any public officer(s) indicted by the forensic audit or legislative probe.
The IHRHL also calls on the President to restructure the administration of the NDDC, which is under his watch.
Furthermore, IHRHL calls on The President to ensure that credible national and international civil society organizations be incorporated into NDDC to ensure due process, monitoring and evaluation of contract awards and projects implementation in order to ensure compliance with the agency’s laws and regulations. The said CSO (s) should also be mandated to release quarterly reports to the public to enhance transparency and performance.
Finally, IHRHL prays that Mr. President strictly supervises the agency in line with S.7 (3) of the NDDC Act 2000 (“The commission shall be subject to the direction, control or supervision in the performance of its functions under this Act by the President………”),in order to ensure that the essence for the creation of the agency; development of the Niger Delta Region, education of her teeming youths and welfare of the poor inter alia, are achieved.
Courage Nsirimovu Esq.
Acting Executive Director (IHRHL)