Coordinated corruption in the NDDC and the Buhari response

Nigeria’s civil service, its political system, its government agencies are a beehive of corruption; no doubt. Simply refer to them as a cabal for organised crime. We criticise and run after internet fraudsters (it used to be 419ers), not realising or ignoring the fact that our family and friends continue to enable a corrupt institution, that is now ‘legal’ and recognised globally as the ‘new normal.’

The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) is one system of financial recklessness (other typical examples: NNPC, Nigerian Customs, etc) that needs to be de-system-ed. The status quo at the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), under the Interim Management Committee, as unveiled at the recent public hearing of the Nigerian Senate Adhoc Committee investigating corruption allegations cannot continue, if Nigeria wants to commit to stopping corruption.

When Nigerians complain of poor leadership, they also refer to how leaders enable infractions. The latest revelations from the NDDC also comes with the imprimatur of the Niger Delta Minister, Godswill Akpabio – who already has allegations on his name, amounting to billions of Naira. His ‘activities’ seem to betray his first name.

The NDDC has shown that Senator Akpabio may have been drenched in the NDDC cesspit of corruption. The presentations of the current Acting Managing Director, Keme Pondei, and his immediate predecessor, Joy Nunieh, who were both appointed by Akpabio, and Kolawole Johnson of the NGO, Act for Positive Transformation Initiative, gave a blow-by-blow account of the financial recklessness that now pervades the NDDC under Akpabio and his IMC.

The NDDC story is a long one indeed. A whole encyclopedia of corruption and its enablers. But, how does our dear President Muhammadu Buhari respond to this?

I am determined to get to the root of the problem undermining the development of the Niger Delta, in spite of the enormous national resources dedicated to this annually. This administration remains committed to bringing rapid, even and sustainable development to the region.

In line with this, I have made it clear to the National Assembly and our investigating and law enforcement agencies to pursue better coordination in their work so that the shared goal of ensuring sanity, transparency and accountability of dedicated funds can be achieved.

All investigating agencies and auditing firms currently working collaboratively with National Assembly Committees to audit and reposition the NDDC must act with urgency and a sense of purpose, and ensure that I am kept informed of any and all actions being taken.

Our determination to entrench transparency and accountability applies not only to the NDDC but also to all other institutions of the Federal Government. We will not relent.”

Of course, these things still remain allegations, but we cannot continue to maintain a soft landing for criminals and stiff penalties against corrupt government officials. The president came on the heels of a corrupt society, but everything has continued as normal. His speech does not represent the will to bring everyone involved to book and it is worrisome. Remember, we are referring to billions of taxpayers money.

We, honestly, cannot continue to shy away from taking strong measures against people and institutions who make corruption look like a legal system. If Buhari wants to fight corruption, his statement does not show the political will to do it. Besides, the whole country is tired of press statements, with absolutely no action.

How are Nigerians responding to this?

Meanwhile, the drama that happened in Joy Nunieh’s house has too many meanings. The Police has denied sending its officers to her house; a sitting governor rushed to ‘help’ his sister; Ms Joy is supposed to appear before a panel – looking at the chain of events, is there a deliberate attempt, by all the characters in the story, to ensure the can of worms remain closed?

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