Niger Delta activists have faulted the move by the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to inaugurate the 29km Ogbia-Nembe Road in Bayelsa State describing it as a ploy to deceive the Presidency.
The activists under the auspices of the Niger Delta Rights Advocates (NDRA) said the invitation sent to President Muhammadu Buhari by the Keme Pondei-led IMC for inauguration of the road project done by erstwhile management of NDDC was diversionary.
Spokesperson of NDRA, Darlington Nwauju, said though government is continuum, the case of Pondei-led team was different because it was a ploy to trick the people of the region.
He said: “Whereas there are a plethora of uncompleted and abandoned projects which the IMC could lay hands on to deliver to the people of the region, including the Headquarters project which the Prof Pondei team had made so much media noise about; the NDRA considers the attempt by Prof. Pondei and his team as a ploy to dig into their bag of tricks to continue to put the people of the region in confusion while he and his co-travellers continue in the sharing bazaars.
“Rather than come clean by refunding the billions of naira extra-budgetary wasted in the past few months including during the period of lockdown, the Prof Pondei team has chosen another theatrics to divert public attention just as the Professor of Virology chose to faint during a normal public hearing, rather than put his integrity to the crucible of public scrutiny.
“Prof Pondei has again chosen the path of dramatization over a road project completed over a year ago by the Prof Nelson Brambaifa administration of the NDDC.
“The NDRA recalls that on the 8th day of July 2019, the former Governor of Bayelsa state, Henry Seriake Dickson did publicly commend the then NDDC IMC for completing that project without media glitz or fanfare. Today, we challenge the current NDDC IMC to point us to one project it has completed”
Nwauju urged President Buhari not to rub the Presidency of Nigeria with the mud of corruption by endorsing the continuous dramatization of corruption at the NDDC.
He added: “NDRA is appalled that rather than do ‘corruption contact tracing’ by isolating both the index case, some misguided elements choose to urge him and his team on in the odious path of corrupt enrichment while poverty and insecurity in the region is at its apogee.
“We reiterate our call on the President and C-in-C to disengage the Prof Pondei team and invite the anti-corruption agencies to recover the looted billions belonging to the region.
“For the avoidance of doubts, monies belonging to the people of region were looted under the following sub-heads – Condolences (N122.9m); community relations (N1.3billion); security (N744m); stakeholders engagement (N248.9m); N85.6m paid to 14 staff members to embark on overseas travel to the UK (during lockdown), publicity (N1.121billion) and COVID-19 relief funds (N3.14billion).
“Others are N143m paid to 5 member of staff to attend a conference on budgeting during lockdown; #641m paid to assist the NDDC IMC identify its own projects; #1.088billion for distribution of palliatives without a single proof (video or pictorial); #171m paid to 300 drivers to attend training course during the lockdown; N150m paid to some union executives for an ILO conference in Turin, Italy (scheduled during the COVID-19 travel restrictions).
“Finally, we shall have no other option than to join forces with the TUC and sister civil society organizations to public protest the seeming delay on the part of the Federal Government to decisively take action against the current NDDC IMC.”