Onyedi Gabriel, Port Harcourt
A group, Niger Delta Rights Advocates, has called on the Federal Government to restore democratic governance to the Niger Delta Development Commission and the Presidential Amnesty Programme.
NDRA, in a statement by its Spokesperson, Darlington Nwauju, said President Muhammadu Buhari and the ninth National Assembly continued to dismantle democratic ethos in the Niger Delta region by supporting the appointment of Interim Management Committees for key interventionist agencies in the region.
He said, “We are saddened to note that up and until this moment, both the NDDC and the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) are being controlled by ‘interim management committees’, which diametrically opposes the tenets of democracy as our people are not evenly represented on these IMCs.
“The case of the NDDC is even pathetic as what we have there now is clearly in breach of the NDDC Establishment Act 2000 (as amended). The implication of this is that the Federal Government of Nigeria in cahoot with the national assembly has continued to entertain illegality whereas sister agencies like the North East Development Commission, is being operated by a board!
“NDRA call on the Buhari administration to immediately dissolve Prof. Keme Pondei-led IMC and inaugurate a board for the NDDC. No decision can be safer to make in order to save the agency from the corruption stench which has refused to go away.
“The Federal Government must do the needful if Nigerians must take the anti-corruption fight seriously. Again, we demand that the current IMC arrangement at the Amnesty Office be terminated and a substantive Special Adviser to the President and Coordinator of the Amnesty Programme appointed.
“The NDRA believes this is the most soothing balm that can be given to the long suffering people of the region whose flora and fauna has been devastated with means of livelihood dismantled just to oxygenate the Nigerian economy.”
Nwauju said the group recalled with nostalgia the sacrifices some of its founding partners made as students’ rights activists on various university campuses campaigning on various civil rights platforms.
“Many years down the line, the blood and sweat of democracy heroes has not been appreciated by those who feasted on the failure of civil rights campaigners to jump into the political fray in 1999,” he said.