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AUPCTRE Urges Buhari to Inaugurate NDDC Board

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Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja

The Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations, Civil Service Technical and Recreational Services Employees (AUPCTRE) has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to inaugurate the board of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

Its General Secretary, Sikiru Wahid, made the call in a statement issued yesterday, where he also appealed the National Assembly, the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Umana Umana, to take urgent steps to ensure NDDC delivered on its mandate.

It resolved: ”That we as staff of the NDDC collectively, under the umbrella of AUPCTRE, cannot fold our hands while different political actors from the region through their actions or inactions undermine the enabling Act of the NDDC, and so threaten the corporate existence of the commission.

”That as a union, we say to all political heavy weights from the Niger Delta Region, that enough of putting personal interest over and above the development of the region for which the vehicle of the Niger Delta Development Commission was set up.”

The union noted that when the NDDC’s Managing Director/CEO Nsima Ekere and its Chairman, Senator Victor Ndoma Egba, resigned their appointments in January 2019, to contest elections in their respective states, their positions should have been filled in accordance with Section 5, Paragraph 3, of the Act establishing the commission.
It said the paragraph which states inter alia that: ”Where a vacancy occurs in the membership of the board, it shall be filled by the appointment of a successor to hold office for the remainder of the term of his predecessor.

”So, however, that the successor shall represent the same interest and 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.”
The union lamented that political gladiators from the region for whatever reasons, ill advised Buhari to dissolve the board of the commission, and in its place, appointed an Interim Management Committee.

The union said the committee did not fully represent all NDDC states, a situation that had culminated into anger and lack of support by the aggrieved persons towards successive interim management committees.

It added: ”Thus, instead of focusing efforts on driving development of the commission, these committees either fight back or focus on pacifying the aggrieved stakeholders.
”And since January 2019 therefore, it has been one interim administration or the other. We as members of staff, as a union, are saying enough of all these. Let the right thing be done.”

The union also kicked against what it described as unending audits of NDDC, saying it was clearly hampering the development of the region through the NDDC.
Furthermore, the union stated that it was not against a personnel audit of the commission or against the forensic audit, but noted that what it was against was putting the cart before the horse.

It noted: ”Enough of these unending audits which fritter away the funds of the commission.  A forensic audit, meant to take between three to six months to complete, but eventually took almost two years to complete, has been undertaken.”

It pointed out that a forensic audit could have been carried out without suspension of the inauguration of a board, but added that for some personal reasons one or two politicians from the Niger Delta region ill advised the president against the inauguration of the board.

It said at the moment, auditors from the office of the Auditor General for the Federation, have been in the NDDC for about two months auditing the books of the commission, including personnel staff files.

 The union stressed that like the previous forensic audit, it does not know when this would end, saying “enough is enough.”

It added: “As a union, we hereby state unequivocally that we are not against a Personnel Audit of the commission, just as we were not against the forensic Audit. But we are against putting the cart before the horse.

“We are against a personnel audit wherein Assumption of Duty Forms of the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs are given to staff of the NDDC to fill as if they are fresh employees of government.”

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