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 Prophecies of the Niger Delta

Prophecies of the Niger Delta


Nigeria continues to meet expectations. Some weeks are slow and dull with public officials and their aides just choosing to keep a clean nose. On other weeks, they simply let go, serving up the most jaw-dropping, applause-rousing or revolting genres of drama. Animals have been reported to develop gourmet relish in all sorts of hard currencies, probes constituted, committees and panels scattered all over the place, reporters get ripped by overbearing lawyers, they retaliate, lawyers threaten to sue for libel, life is fickle and unimportant –the macabre Wild West would be quite green with envy. More recently, and in addition, the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the Niger Delta Development Committee (NDDC) has suggested that it has the second sight.

What other reason could have emboldened the IMC’s Executive Director of Projects, Cairo Ojougboh to allege that Nigeria would be rent asunder if the commission releases the names and status of those involved in contract scams in 2017 and 2019, especially in the Senate? This prophecy is just one of the many salvos the NDDC and Senate have fired at each other since last October.

The country remembers with an odd mixture of amusement and reproof the unearthing of dirty laundry completed by the trio of Godswill Akpabio, Joi Nunieh and the House of Reps Committee on NDDC – a drama which culminated in the much celebrated swooning of acting managing director, Kemebradikumo Pondei.

Asked why the National Assembly had taken a keen interest in the IMC’s activities, Mr Ojougboh asked God to bless the interviewer before explaining that, “It’s the forensic audit that the President has instituted because the National Assembly is culpable. At the end of the forensic audit, you will see members of the National Assembly. A Senator came and said that in the list of 2016 they brought, that he had only six contracts. I said no, that he had more. What he didn’t know is that we did not release the list for 2017 and the one for 2019. If we release it this country will break.”

His prophecy, he illuminated, was due to “the people looting, the calibre, the names and people looting the NDDC. And who engineers it? The chairmen of the NDDC in the Senate and House of Representatives in the National Assembly.”

With each appearance before the media, the parties asked to explain the suspected defalcating of funds in the NDDC has repeatedly opened cans of worms. The IMC claims that the National Assembly is making spirited attempts to give it a bad name and hang it due to its presidential mandate to supervise the auditing of NDDC accounts from 2001-2019, an act which it divines will cause many heads to roll. The national assembly is also adamant that the IMC is not coming to equity with clean hands and that its fingers were heavily stained with the marks of corrupt indulgences.

While both parties have displayed adroitness at landing the spectating public in a catch-22 situation, the NDDC’s altruistic reluctance to release information continues to grieve analysts. Last July, Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, after losing his cool and making indicting statements, became reluctant to publish a list of names he claimed to possess; names of senators who were complicit in the illegal award of contracts. Caving in to intense pressure, he managed to release a few names – scapegoats maybe – and retreat from the limelight. He is happy to hug the shadows for now.

There is no evidence that Nigeria will break up if the NDDC releases the names of all the culprits it claims to have. Worse things happen daily in the country, including banditry, insecurity, inflation, extreme poverty, religious tensions, musicians facing the hangman’s noose, the nagging matter of those agitating for the Republic of Biafra, and an endless list of sundry matters.

In 2015, one of President Muhammadu Buhari’s first actions was to probe a reported two-billion-dollar arm scandal called the Dasukigate. Substantial names were released, and the country did not break apart. If anything, the country bayed for more blood and the presidency happily obliged. The probe of the NDDC’s accounts is one of the results of the presidency’s war on corruption.

Until the probe is over and even afterwards, the NDDC and Senate will continue to exchange accusations with all the shrewdness of sweet love lost. It is suspected that more secrets will be revealed before the affair is finally closed. The conduct and disposition of both parties have led many Nigerians to believe that both the commission and the senate were arm in arm when the going was good and that both parties are culpable in the suspected looting. The suspense is remarkable, but it is hoped that when the fat lady sings, she sings loud and clear.

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