By Saviour Ekpe
The activities of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) have been recurring and trending issues in the media in recent times. This may not be unconnected to the ongoing forensic audit as it is meant to unearthing most of the shoddy, criminal and inhumane practices as well as financial recklessness perpetuated in the commission for the past years of its operation by past administrators of the commission.
It could be recalled that in a bit to uphold the ideals and objective of establishing the NDDC for the good of the region and ensuring that the wealth of the region gets down members rather to the privileged few, a socio-political/cultural organisation, Supreme Council of Niger Delta Forum For Conscience And Development has been mounting a consistent pressure on President Muhammadu Buhari to ignore hypocritical ranting of the political class that have been direct beneficiaries of the region’s misfortune and looting, through advocacies and campaigns.
In the fourth on the series christened, “Who is Afraid of the NDDC Forensic Audit? Part Four”, the position of the group jointly signed by a three sum, Obong (Comrade) Ifot N. Ifot, Chairman; Dr. Duncan Osagie, Secretary-General and Amb. Engr. Victor Nkanta, PRO and made available to Newsmen, clearly and outstandingly, commended President Buhari for appointing Sen. Godswill Akpabio for the rescue at a time as this in the annals of the region’s history.
The position letter of the group, which clearly stated the doggedness of Sen. Akpabio and his determination to correct the wrongs of the past in NDDC as being hunted after by past beneficiaries using different approaches, means and methods to squash the success of the forensic audit as the group, whose membership cuts across the nine states of the Niger Delta says that at the present and critical moment in the region, they want Sen. Akpabio to continue in his good works in the Niger Delta Ministry to put his eagle eye in the NDDC, which will spell well to the entire people of the region in view of his track records as governor of Akwa Ibom State and his strides as Minister in the few months on the saddle. The position of the group reads in full, “We should not underestimate the complex nature of the problems, opposition and the gamut of challenges we have to combat while fighting to disarm corruption in NDDC. If adequate care is not taken, the administration of President Buhari shall fail in its will, courage and insight to deliver a final blow against corruption unless government is prepared to undergo a mental and spiritual re-evaluation, change of focus which will open our eyes to behold that the things cum claims that seem unreal in the commission are so real and powerful that these realities must be brought under a death sentence.
The government must make a supreme effort to generate the readiness and its eagerness to eradicate corruption in the NDDC if indeed the Niger Delta must see development socially, economically, politically and in infrastructure. It appears to us that the best brains that have been saddled with the responsibility of developing the Niger Delta through the instrumentality of the Niger Delta Development commission have been devoted, over time, to turning the commission into their private gold mine. But the current leadership in the commission shows a tendency toward delivering on its mandate and yet it is this leadership that corruption and its agents are bent on destroying in order to keep corruption alive in the region.
There is no deficit in human resources; the deficit is in human will. The time is now for an all-out war against corruption in Nigeria and the NDDC in particular so that the vast resources of the region could be used and be seen to be used in developing the region. Sketchy reforms in the commission will never suffice neither will it enhance any meaningful development. The NDDC had a treacherous foundation and corruption has clearly been the corrosive evil that is bringing down the curtain on development in the Niger Delta.
Arnold Toynbee once said that some twenty-six civilizations had risen upon the face of the earth that almost all of them had descended into the junk heap of destruction. The decline and fall of those civilizations, according to Toynbee, was not caused by external invasions but by internal decay. That they failed to respond creatively to the challenges that impinged upon them. Now, if the Federal Government does not allow the minister of the NDDC to respond constructively to the challenge he has uncovered, our future history will say that the Niger Delta Area, a region with a rich ecosystem and flourishing natural resources, one of the world’s largest wetlands sustaining the largest wetland in Africa with about 25,900 Sq kilometres of mangrove forest, freshwater swamp, coastal ridges, forest and fertile dry land with numerous creeks and streams providing habitat for a wide variety of fish and marine wildlife, with one of the highest rural population density globally, collapsed in the 21st century because the federal government of Nigeria lacked the soul and commitment to strangulate corruption in its body corporate.
If this administration is not diligent in its determination to root out the last vestiges of corruption in the Niger Delta and indeed NDDC, we shall soon see the sins of our fathers visited upon not only our generation but succeeding generations. Whenever scientific power outruns moral power, we end up with guided missiles in the hands of misguided men.
Senator Godswill Akpabio Wanted. Senator Dr. Godswill Akpabio has the ability and capacity to stay awake, inculcate new ideas to remain actively vigilant to face the challenge of change not only in the NDDC but in Nigeria at large. Senator Akpabio stands out today as Nigeria’s social reformer offering jeremiads to the national assembly and Nigerians in general about a failed promise, the unfulfilled promises to the people of Niger Delta. Today Akpabio remains firm in the mainstream of Nigeria’s dissenting tradition. Akpabio is a unique personality and a true representative of his people, the people of the Niger Delta Area. Many Nigerians seem not to understand Godswill Akpabio’s determination to put conscience and morality before social cum political expediency in an effort to shape some of our most fundamental values and institutions.
The Supreme Council of Niger Delta Forum for Conscience and Development will stand up to defend Akpabio’s stinging indictments of our elected leader’s complacency and their banal condonement of all economic and financial evils against the people of the Niger Delta. Akpabio has been discovered by the spirit of our time and is guided by special providence. The Niger Delta people have been assaulted by merchants of materialism and extreme bigotry. They have been forced to patiently submit to economic exploitation and deprivation, therefore let Akpabio be. Whenever one takes a stand for justice and truth, he is liable to scorn. Slowing up while on the move for justice in the NDDC and capitulating to the whims and caprices of the promoters of a deadening status quo remains a tragic vice that every Nigerian of goodwill must condemn. Developing the Niger Delta is Nigeria’s eternal moral responsibility which of course, may determine her destiny in this 21st century. It has often been said that an adequate understanding of man is found neither in the thesis of liberalism nor in the antithesis of neo-orthodoxy, but in a synthesis which reconciles the truth of both. Men given to corruption are never easily moved from their mental ruts or purged of their irrational selfish feelings. Whenever the underprivileged people demand freedom, the privileged first react with utmost bitterness and outright resistance even when such demands are obvious.
Senator Akpabio’s efforts to cleanse the NDDC of past year’s filth should not be halted because history has taught us that once oppressed people rise up against that oppression, there is no stopping point short of full freedom. Similarly, the same history has revealed that those who oppose the fight against corruption are those who are in privileged positions and they very seldom give up their privileges without strong resistance, they hardly do so voluntarily, SO LET AKPABIO BE. This is a time for action and not a time for romantic illusions about corruption in Nigeria in empty philosophical debate. What is needed now in the Niger Delta is a strategy for positive change, a change that will bring the people of the Niger Delta out of poverty, into the mainstream of progress and development. Nothing is more necessary and urgent now than for us not to co-operate with the forces and any institution that promote and perpetuate corruption in the NDDC.
SENATOR AKPABIO IS NEEDED. With the UNCOMMON TRANSFORMER on the saddle in the NDDC, the Niger Delta people are jubilating with positive expectations like the waves of Ibeno, you can hear them rumbling in the creeks, in every corner in the villages, in the docks, in their houses, among the students, at civil society meetings, among the physically challenged, in the churches, at political meetings, and in the markets beckoning on him to cross the Rubicon.
The present tension about Chief Godswill Akpabio is because the NDDC is progressing under the senator, but the tensions represent the necessary pains that accompany the birth of anything new. Long ago, the Greek philosopher, Heraclitus, had argued that justice emerges from the strife of opposites, and Hegel, in modern philosophy, preached a doctrine of growth through struggle. It is both historically and empirically true, therefore, that there can be no growth without birth and growing pains.
It is obvious that any time a new order emerges; we must confront the recalcitrance of the old order. So the tensions erupting now on account of senator Akpabio in the NDDC are sure indicators of the simple truth that new order is born in the NDDC, while the old order is reluctantly passing away, SO LET AKPABIO BE.
For those of our representatives, who occupy high offices today, some as chairmen and members of important committees both in the house and senate they can afford to filibuster, bottle-up and strangulate the legislation that the NDDC need today to free the commission from the shackles of corruption. There is this axiom in social life that the impositions of absolute frustrations on a people always lead to two kinds of reactions. One is the emergence of a wholesome socio-cultural organization to resist effectively any attempt impeding their progress, while the other reaction is a confused anger-motivated urge to strike back in retaliation. But let it be understood that there is greater power in socially organized masses on the march than there is in guns in the hands of a few desperate men. Again history has informed us that like a turbulent ocean beating great cliffs into fragments of rock, the determined movement of people demanding their rights always disintegrates the old order.
For years, the Niger Delta people have been politically dominated, and economically exploited with impunity. With Senator Godswill Akpabio driving the affairs of the NDDC now, citizens of the Niger Delta will witness in no distant time, a new structure for justice and development transforming their fatigue of despair into the buoyancy of hope. Akpabio mostly wanted for this assignment, dead or alive”.