There are strong indications that President Muhammadu Buhari may have given fresh conditions for the inauguration of the Board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
The condition, according to the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Umana Umana is centred around the release of a white paper detailing all those that committed infractions against the agency, following the recent forensic audit ordered by the President.
Umana gave the indication on Wednesday while briefing reporters on the outcome of the Federal Executive Council meeting.
Reacting to insinuations on the delay in constituting the board of NDDC, he said nobody was averse to constituting the board, rather the white paper needed to be released to ascertain those who were culpable in fleecing the agency.
His words, “On NDDC Board, Let me start by saying that, as the Minister, I am very anxious to have the board oversee the affairs of the NDDC. And the position of the federal government also is that they should be on board to oversee the affairs of the NDDC, in line with the provisions of the extant law.
“That position has been very consistent. If you look at the records, the President has submitted names of nominees for the board to the Senate, when the Senate reacted, they were litigations about whether what was done was in line with the position of the law. And while that was being addressed, we had the issue of the forensic audit. And the position of the President, when once the audit was instituted, he made it very clear that he will wait for the conclusion, the outcome of the forensic audits, before the board will be constituted.
“That was his position and he stated the position very clearly. Now, the report was submitted, the submission of the report is not the conclusion. If you must understand how government works, the report is submitted, the findings have to be acted upon. And how do you act on the findings? The forensic audit was like an inquiry. Usually, when governments institute an inquiry, the findings will go back to the Federal Executive Council and a white paper will be issued. We are at the stage of concluding that, the reports of the findings of the audit will go to a federal executive council.
“The white paper is then the decision of the federal government on the findings of the forensic audit. Of course, with the white paper released, those who committed infractions will be called to account and whatever government has to do governments will then proceed to do so. So, we are at the stage of concluding on that.
“I can very conveniently say that the constitution of the board will follow immediately thereafter. Nobody is trying to stall the constitution of the board. Nobody. I want the board in place because it would make my work run smoothly. But we must also follow the new process, conclude on this report and the white paper is issued. So that is the position”.