IIt is not for nothing that this column will deal with the same subject in two successive releases. However, the presentation of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) in two successive editions of this column – the first being last week and the next occurring in this current release, is justified by the simple fact of a significant development in the affairs of the beleaguered agency. . In a development that features a concerted assault to restore sanity to the agency, two recent developments have come together to usher in an endgame for the charade of a dispensation from leadership in the agency, being the illegal office of the single administrator.

First, an anticipated volte-face by the Senate, whose President Ahmad Lawan raised his tendency to deny the NDDC any further budget approvals until there was a reinstatement of the agency’s statutory board, which had been in suspended animation since 2019. This was the meaning of last week’s article on this space.

This time, a Federal High Court sitting in the state of Yenagoa Bayelsa struck down the same office of sole administrator of the NDDC last week. In its decision, the court ordered the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and the Minister of Justice to cease placing the NDDC under the authority of any ministry, including the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs. The court also granted a perpetual injunction prohibiting the AGF from further appointing any interim or sole “administration” or board, other than a statutory board, to manage the affairs of the Commission.

The orders were issued following an ex-parte petition dated December 10, 2021 and filed by an activist, Odighonin Adienbo, on behalf of a coalition of stakeholders including the Wailing Women of Niger Delta (WWND), the ‘Integrity Friends for Truth and Peace Initiative. (IFTPI), as well as a few individuals. The trial judge also ordered that an audit of the agency’s finances with respect to the operations of the interim management committees from the time of Professor Nelson Brambaifa to the current Sole Administrator be carried out. By fixing its timeline on Professor Nelson Brambaifa’s 2019 tenure, the decision apparently referred to the emergence of a distortion in the agency’s leadership processes, which is attributed to the consequences of the inelegant termination of the last , a formally appointed board of directors of which Nsima Ekere was the managing director. To emphasize the importance of the decision, the trial judge also asked the parties to return to court on Tuesday, April 5, 2022 (just a fortnight away) for the report of service, compliance and hearing. .

Needless to refer to the foregoing decision as a historic dispensation, regarding the sordid turn of developments of the agency as it is currently run, in flagrant violation of existing statutory regulations, driven by impunity. Because it is difficult to envisage a better resolution of the situation, since the court order provides a definitive answer to the case.

Still, given that the agency’s ongoing charade had defied serial efforts to be resolved, it now remains to be seen what outcome will follow that decision. The questions here include the following. Will the GA comply or appeal in order to maintain the incontinence status quo in the agency? Equally, will the Niger Delta leadership community move towards harnessing the promise and opportunity offered by the decision to facilitate a game-changer in the fortunes of the Commission and their region? The answers to these questions are as suggestive as possible of likely future developments.

It is common knowledge that the long-beleaguered agency had been a sick child since its inception in 2001, with its leaders valuing its mismanagement more than pursuing its statutory mandate. However, the evolution of the agency took a dramatic turn in 2019 when it imposed on it like an incubus, a regime of illegal interim management committees and ultimately a single administrator. The most significant aspect of the sort of 2019 coup within the NDDC was that it was at the behest of President Muhamadu Buhari, who in response to a protest by NDDC state governors against what they considered incongruities within the agency, promised to conduct a forensic audit of the agency, before taking any corrective action. However, while the forensic audit was concluded two years later in August 2021, the president knowingly or unknowingly became embroiled in a web of intrigue to keep his promise to the region, by not naming substantive advice for the agency.

Therefore, if the lessons of NDDC history are to be learned, it may be unduly presumptuous to expect the GA not to appeal the decision since it in principle upset the apple basket perquisites and perquisites that have a stake in agency largesse. ate fat. Therefore, the Niger Delta leadership community must be resolute in preparing for a protracted trench warfare in the courts, in accordance with the claim of rectitude reign within the NDDC and, by implication, a better deal for the region.

For if with the cumulative effect of the Senate’s volte-face and the decision of the Yenagoa Court, the NDDC charade is not resolved in this case, it will remain in the realm of conjecture, when another opportunity like this will present itself.

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