The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Mr. Umana Okon Umana on Wednesday December 4, inaugurated the Governing Board of Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC with a charge on them to guard against award of what he described as spurious and indiscriminate new contracts.
The inauguration of the 7th NDDC Governing Board which took place in Abuja, was part of the fulfilment of the Minister’s ten points agenda outlined immediately he was sworn in as Minister of Niger Delta Affairs Ministry by President Muhammadu Buhari on July 2022.
At the inauguration of the new board, the Minister listed the task before them to include: faithful implementation of the recommendations of the report of the Forensic Audit, looking into allegations of irregular employment from 2019 in order to ensure all cases of employment were done within extant rules and regulations of the Service.
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On overseeing the commission, the Minister promised the ministry will not relent in providing and availing the Board and the Commission at large with necessary support and guidance needed for a successful tenure.
He promised to organize a retreat for the Board Members, their Aides and Management of the Commission, with the Honourable Minister of State and Permanent Secretary in attendance.
Umana commended Muhammadu Buhari for his unceasing love for the people of Niger Delta region, explaining that the President’s approval of the Governing Board of the NDDC was in line with section 2 (1) of the NDDC (Establishment) Act 2000.
“The tasks before the New Board shall include a faithful implementation of the recommendations of the report of the Forensic Audit. Besides the findings of the Forensic Audit, Government has received numerous petitions alleging irregularities in employment in the Commission. The New Board will have to look into these allegations of irregular employment from 2019 and follow up on the ongoing personnel audit in the Commission to make sure that all cases of employment during the period under review were in accordance with extant rules and regulations of the Service.
“In executing the mandate of the Commission, the Board and Management of the NDDC are to note that in a letter of 29 September 2019 the President had: “(a) Delegated to the Honourable Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, the powers and duties conferred on the President by section 7(3) of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) Act” [and] “(b) Directed the Board and Management of the NDDC to carry out their activities under the supervision of the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs.” I believe the intent of the President’s letter as quoted above is self-explanatory.
“On our part as the overseeing Ministry, we will not relent in providing and availing the Board and the Commission at large with the necessary support and guidance needed for a successful tenure. Accordingly, we shall organize a retreat for the Board Members, their Aides and Management of the Commission, with the Honourable Minister, Honourable Minister of State and Permanent Secretary in attendance.
“The New Management is to further note that it must strictly adhere to the relevant provisions of the extant rules, particularly compliance with procurement thresholds as enshrined in the Public Procurement Act of the nation, and abide by the operating financial regulations to ensure prudence in the management of the limited resources. Every contract above the threshold of Management is to be referred to the Ministerial Tenders Board and the Federal Executive Council. Any breach of contract approval limits will attract severe sanctions.
“I also urge you to shun the impulse for the award of spurious and indiscriminate new contracts, and suggest that you instead focus on the completion of ongoing projects to better serve the people of the region and deliver on the mandate of the NDCC, thereby helping to repair the negative public perception for the Commission.”
In her remark, the chairman of NDDC Governing Board, Lauretta Onochie, also commended president Buhari for ensuring a new board is set up for the NDDC, adding that the president’s actions on any national issue is always based on the interest of the country.
She vowed to reposition the commission with good ideas for the betterment of the people of Niger Delta region.
“Apart from the physical development of our region, we will be paying extra attention to the empowerment of our teaming youth population, equipping them with requisite skills to catch up with their peers in other parts of Nigeria and elsewhere.
“We will not fail. It’s a promise. But we ask that you give us the breathing space to do our job. We ask for your support, all and sundry, so we can deliver for the long-suffering people of the Niger Delta.”