… Advocates Constitutional Responsibilities For Royal Fathers
The Ovie of Idjerhe Kingdom Ethiope West Local Goverrnment Area of Delta State, His Royal Majesty, King Obukohwo Whiskey Udurhie 1 has described as scam the most talked about ‘Forensic Audit’ of the Nigeria Development Commission, NDDC, set up by Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs to audit activities of the commission.
He also described as illegal the setting up Interim Management Committee and Sole Administrator to pilot affairs of the commission, noting that the Act that established the commission does not give room for that.
His Royal Majesty who made this known while interacting with Benin based journalists in his palace over the weekend, noted that as an oil-producing community no one has come to his domain to audit any NDDC’s project neither had he seen any in the whole Niger Delta region.
The Royal Father who lamented that over two years the development agenda of the region has been held hostage by Akpabio, the Minister of Niger Affairs due to his unwillingness to set up the commission’s Board, stressed that in spite of this anomalies about N500bn has been budgeted for the NDDC.
He said, “The NDDC is our general concern and we will not sit down and allow one individual in the name of Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, to hijack the commission to the extent that for two years the commission does not have a Board. What they have is a self-imposed Interim Management Committee and lately, it has gone worse that they now call it a Sole Administrator.
“To start with, the NDDC Act 2000 does not recognise the Interim Management Committee, not to talk of Sole Administrator. Of course, we are all witnesses to the fact that under the Interim Management Committee, N87 billion allegedly grew wings and flew out of the coffers of NDDC. A budget of about N500bn has been passed for the NDDC for an individual to superintend and we are saying ‘No’ to Sole Administrator in NDDC.
“The Idjerhe clan in Delta State is a major oil-producing community and for two years, NDDC has not done anything here because there is no structure there. What it translates to is that for two years, the development agenda of this kingdom and several others have been held hostage by an individual who is the Minister of the Niger Delta Affairs.”
He continues, “It is now very clear that the Forensic Audit of the cCommission is a scam. Nothing is going on there. As a major oil-producing region, nobody has come to my domain, Idjerhe, to say they want to verify the project of NDDC in the region. With over 50 communities in my domain, there are abandoned NDDC projects, so, if they are carrying out forensic auditing they would have visited some of the projects, but they have not come here.
“So, I can boldly tell you that the NDDC forensic audit is a scam perpetuated by an individual to hold the whole region hostage. There is no probe of any kind that does not have a life span.
The last time, the minister said he was going to inaugurate the board in April, this is past mid-April already and nothing seems to be happening. What they refer to as forensic audit is a scam.”
The Traditional Ruler who once served as National Director of Media and Publicity, HOSCON, expressed worry over outright disregard to laws that govern institutions in the Niger Delta region particularly as regards its development.
He accused the Federal Government of collaborating with Akpabio to undo the Niger Delta people, expressing the fear that one day a government will come and scrap the commission with the happenings in the NDDC.
He, however, said as a person who has been in the forefront of the Niger Delta struggle, he will not fold his arms and “watch the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio to completely hijack the Commission.
“From the happenings we are beginning to think that the Federal Government is collaborating with Akpabio to undo the Niger Delta people and one of these days they will wake up to scrap the commission. We will not take that, we will continue to speak. We are saying categorical no to sole administratorship,” he said.
He called on the National Assembly to urgently put their house in order and inaugurate the NDDC board.
Speaking further, the trained journalist advocated constitutional responsibilities for royal fathers in the country, stressing that they are closer to the people and they have the native authority over the people.
He said, “As a royal father, before the advent of the colonial masters, the administrative institution of this country was in the hands of the royal father. I want to re-advocate that we need constitutional responsibilities for royal fathers in this country. They are closer to the people and they have the native authority over their people and when you look at them critically, the governor of Delta State, for instance, is in Asaba. As the royal father of my kingdom, I have three Dukes that report to me. The farthest is 30 kilometres away, while the closest is 10 kilometres.
“There is nothing that happens in those areas that I will not get the report in less than 20 minutes. But certain things will happen here and it will take the governor at least two days to be aware, while the same information will get to the President in almost a month. So, if you give the traditional rulers constitutional responsibilities, it will smoothen the administration of this country, enhance peace and security. The moment we have peace and security, the development will be rapid.
“When I ascended the throne there were lots of problems but we had to address the challenges and today there is peace in the land. The government will not come down to the level of the royal fathers. The royal fathers can come down to the level of culture and tradition of their people.”