VANGUARD for Transparent Leadership and Accountability, VATLAD, has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to save his party, All Progressives Congress, APC, from losing the nine oil states by allowing the substantive Governing Board of Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, confirmed by the Senate on November 5, 2019, to resume work.
The group in a statement by the national president, Emmanuel Igbini, said President Buhari has been misdirected all this while, adding the board does not necessarily have to be inaugurated before it commences work with the latest Supreme Court judgment on the Ondo state election.
“It has been our contention since January 2020 that President Buhari (Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces) was misled and deceived to place on hold, the duly appointed and Senate-confirmed Governing Board of NDDC, under the excuse of allowing for the forensic auditing of the Commission.”
“Anger, frustration and disappointment against this decision have continually been expressed by the people of the nine oil-producing states whose lives and environments have been so negatively impacted for the past two years because NDDC is no longer available to care for them.
“Such frustration and anger now cause the people to gravitate towards other political parties with serious consequences for the APC come 2023 if the APC does not move fast to advise and pressure President Buhari to immediately allow the substantive board he appointed on October 18, 2019, and confirmed by the Senate on November 5, 2019, in line with section 2(2a) of NDDC Act, 2000, to resume their duties at NDDC.
“What more! Now that the forensic audit report is ready and submitted to the Federal Government, there is no reason to delay any further, the board free access to their offices in NDDC to commence work. Doing so will guarantee APC the opportunity to win back the hearts of the aggrieved people of the Niger Delta region.
“Happily, going by the recent Supreme Court judgement on Ondo State Governorship Election, which President Buhari and APC celebrated, it is now settled that inauguration of the lawfully confirmed governing board of NDDC by the Senate is not part of the requirements of NDDC Act, 2000, and, therefore, not necessary to be done before members of the board resume duties in order to carry out the functions of NDDC as enshrined in section 7 and 8 of the NDDC Act.
“Previous inaugurations of boards of NDDC are mere ceremonies resulting in waste of scarce public funds. Recall that the Supreme Court held that whether or not Gov. Mai Mala Buni submitted the name of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu as APC governorship candidate to INEC It does not invalidate his lawful candidature as long as his emergence was from the APC Ondo state governorship primaries duly conducted in line with the provisions of sections 31 (1) and 87 of the Electoral Act, Article 13.3(vi) of the APC Constitution.
“The court went further to declare that: ‘it is preposterous to argue that because one of the two signatories of the letter submitting the selected names had no vires to sign it, the said decision of Ondo state congress of the 2nd Respondent (APC) should be nullified’.
“Flowing from the above, it is also preposterous for anyone to insist that a mere ceremony of inauguration be carried out before the substantive board is allowed access to NDDC.
“Also, the critical questions to now ask are: Did not President Buhari (Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces) fully comply with section 2(2a) of the NDDC Establishment Act, 2000, in sending names of his nominees to Senate for screening and confirmation?
“Yes, he did in his letter to the Senate dated October 18, 2019, wherein he rightly stated: ‘In accordance with the provision of section 2(2a) of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) Establishment Act, 2000, I write to forward for confirmation by the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the under listed Nominees for appointment into the NDDC Board, to occupy the positions indicated against their names.
” Did not the Senate of Federal Republic of Nigeria screen and confirm these nominees as required by section 2(2a) of the NDDC Establishment Act, 2000? Yes it did, when on November 5, 2019, it confirmed all the nominees
“Therefore, as the Supreme Court stated in its judgement on Ondo State 2020 Governorship Election, all that is lawfully required for the appointment of members of the board of NDDC and for the board to commence work have been met since November 5, 2019.
“Also as the Supreme Court stated in its judgement on Ondo state election, if it was the intention of the lawmakers to include in the NDDC Act, that inauguration of the confirmed members of the board should be carried before the resumption of duties, it would have been clearly stated.
“What more! The Senate only, a few days ago, restated its confirmation of these nominees as presented to it by President Buhari on October 18, 2019. We, indeed, commend the Senate for this in order not to subject our Senate to global ridicule and mockery.
“For the avoidance of doubt, Section 2(2a) of the NDDC Act, 2000, states that: ‘The Chairman and other members of the Board shall be appointed by the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, subject to the confirmation of the Senate in consultation with the House of Representatives.
“In conclusion, we once more advise President Buhari and the entire leadership of APC to allow this substantive board of NDDC to immediately resume at their duty posts so as not to give reason to the people of the nine oil-producing states voting against APC in 2023 general elections because the lives of the people have become more miserable, following this refusal to allow this board to carry out their duties to better their lives,” he said.