Stella Dimoko NDDC Brouhaha Is A Wake Up Call For President Buhari


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Tuesday, July 21, 2020

NDDC Brouhaha Is A Wake Up Call For President Buhari

It is a show of shame isn’t it, what is going on at the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC)?

 Established in the year 2000 to assuage the fears of the people of the Niger Delta and address their concerns about the lack of infrastructural development in the region, despite the region’s contributions to the sustenance of Nigeria, it is sad to see how like all good initiatives gone bad in Nigeria, this interventionist agency has become, or has been exposed as a festering sore upon the wound of the Niger Delta.

 From personality clashes to sordid tales of mismanagement of funds, contractors that collect mobilization fees and simply take a walk, politicians in the National Assembly feeding fat on Niger Delta resources, and reports of terrifying wasteful expenditure and the conversion of every event or situation: graduation ceremonies and even COVID-19 into an opportunity to empty the people’s till, the stench from the NDDC stinks to the heavens. In the past week, we have been treated to the kind of melodrama an artist may never have imagined, complete with the stuff of a fainting fit, a failed romantic attempt, a woman scorned, and hell breaking loose and a once self-styled uncommon Governor as the deutragonist.

It is this latter part of the plot that has excited, amused and fascinated Nigerians. The protagonist is Joi Nunieh, the former Acting Managing Director of the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the NDDC (October. 2019- February 2020) who left the commission rather abruptly due to a yet unproven allegation around and about her NYSC certificate and so-called “insubordination”. 

 In the course of a forensic audit of the agency ordered by President Muhammadu Buhari, it is noteworthy that all the hidden corpses in the NDDC especially within the last one year began to show up, and some of those ghosts emerged in the form of financial sleaze and broken alliances and failed relationships. The supervising Minister of the Commission, the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, a once powerful PDP chieftain, turned an APC floor member, went on television to offer his perspective on what transpired at the NDDC (he must be regretting doing so); rather than address the issues, he launched an attack on Joi Nunieh, who worked briefly as Acting Chairman of the NDDC.

He complained about how the lady had married four husbands and called on those four men, who, if they exist at all, have lent themselves common sense and stayed off the radar. The Minister also made an allusion to Joi Nunieh’s state of health. Of course, she didn’t take it lying low. She seized the occasion with every ounce of oxygen in her body and smashed the table on which Akpabio leaned his bulky frame in the studio. In the course of her now famous interview on Arise TV, we were treated to the sub-plot of how Akpabio failing to dictate to her or control her actions adopted a “Plan B,” which is basically a plan to “entangle” her in “the other room.” 

 She disclosed that what the “uncommon former Governor” from Akwa Ibom State got in response was an “uncommon slap in the face”. It must have been one of those hot, dirty, blinding slaps that result in a momentary loss of vision and a loud scream of Ye!. Akpabio as Governor used to refer to Akwa Ibom as “Gilgal.” His current travail is like a journey from Gilgal to Golgotha. He insists that Joi Nunieh is lying. He says he has asked his lawyers to go to court.

You probably know the rest of the story: how things went downhill afterwards: the attempt to arrest Joi Nunieh at her Port Harcourt residence, a detachment of about 50 policemen knocking on the gates, smashing doors as if they were after a Colombian drug lord, Governor Nyesom Wike’s ironic, swashbuckling gallantry (can you imagine a PDP Governor protecting an APC member from members of her own party?), the sordid spectacle of the current Acting Chairman of the NDDC, Professor Keme Pondei walking out on the House of Representatives Committee on the NDDC, after practically accusing the Chair of the Committee of being an interested party in the matter, and the same Committee issuing a warrant of arrest to call Pondei to order. 

Earlier, the same Professor Keme Pondei allegedly disclosed how members of the IMC which he leads spent N1.8 billion on themselves alone as COVID palliative within three months! When he eventually showed up at the House of Representatives yesterday, and he was reminded that he and his colleagues had helped themselves to funds that were not covered in the approved NDDC Budget, he started fanning himself in an air-conditioned room and before anyone knew it, he slumped atop his table! His detractors argue that he was merely playing his role: an Acting MD, acting out a scene in the NDDC drama.

Stakeholders within the NGO community who claim that they have been monitoring the NDDC for years, in fact, suggest that we haven’t seen anything yet and that if a thorough forensic audit is conducted, Nigerians will be shocked beyond their marrows. But can anything be worse than what we have seen and heard so far? These stakeholders also argue that all the drama that our eyes have seen so far is at best a distraction and an orchestrated cover up attempt. The only problem is that the Niger Delta NGO community has also been fingered in some of the stories for having received patronage from the NDDC for work not done. If indeed things get more curious, a list of beneficiary-NGOs may surface, and we may all get busy struggling to lift the veil. We should be watchful. A Professor slumped yesterday. Someone else could have a heart attack tomorrow!

But where are the people of the Niger Delta in all of this? What are their views on the on-going controversy? They are the ones who have been short-changed the most. The NDDC, originally OMPADEC, was part of a series of policy measures including derivation, ecological fund, and infrastructure development plans to address the marginalization of the Niger Delta people, check youth restiveness in the region and promote peace and stability. Since inception, the NDDC has been managed by persons from the Niger Delta. A Ministry of the Niger Delta was also created, and to date, only persons from the Niger Delta have headed that Ministry. And yet all of these issues! 

The usual tendency is to say that the NDDC was designed to fail, but that is certainly not true. The goal was principled – to bring development to the Niger Delta. It will also be incorrect to say that the people have not seen any development at all. In 1999, parts of the Niger Delta were in a complete mess. I recall visiting Yenagoa in 2000. The Governor then was the late Governor-General of the Niger Delta, the famous Diepreye Alamiyesiegha. Yenagoa, the state capital had only one visible road, which looked like something constructed in the 1960s. I saw one bank: the defunct All States Trust, I believe. And one fuel station with a broken, solitary, pump. And there was a higher education college whose female students were friendly and hospitable beyond comparison! Today, Yenagoa looks different, and the same may be said of other areas of the Niger Delta. The improvement does not go far enough, however, because the major threats to the people’s lives: critical infrastructure like the East-West Highway, environmental crisis, and unemployment remain visible.

Governors of the Niger Delta since 1999 may claim credit for this improvement that we have seen but the perception in Nigeria is that the OMPADEC/NDDC intervention has helped to some degree resulting in the request by other regions for a similar intervention agency. Nonetheless, recent revelations that contractors and officials of the NDDC have been busy pilfering the funds of the Commission is at best stupefying, the sheer scale of it is benumbing. The N81.5 billion that was allegedly diverted within two months sounds like enough money to transform the health sector in parts of the Niger Delta in a season of COVID-19. So, this is not the time for the people of the Niger Delta to make the usual defensive point that anybody from the Niger Delta is entitled to take Niger Delta money. The view that “it is our money taken by our children” is unacceptable. 

The Niger Delta struggle was based on the ideals of justice, equity, development and progress, no latter-day revisionist should impose on the people of the Niger Delta, a Barkin Zuwo philosophy. I bring this up because I have read some comments by some members of the Niger Delta elite insisting that the big issue is that the NDDC has not been properly funded and that the thing to do is to release all outstanding funds to the Commission. Is that why the trillions in contention had to be mismanaged? Is that the issue on the table?

 There should be a more robust conversation about the development process in the Niger Delta beyond the confusing argument that this is a conflict between “a political Niger Delta” and “a geographical Niger Delta” or that the only way forward is to throw in more money.

By Reuben Abati


  1. Real show of shame. Our politicians disgracing Nigeria as a country from onset.

    1. Wake-up Call......someone dat is in permanent slumber.
      Nigeria is on auto-pilot. We havnt had a president in yrs.

  2. The problem is that Buhari will be surprised at all these happenings. Unfortunately he might not read all these you wrote

  3. NDDC and EFCC.

    In fact there should be a law that prevents a politician to hold more than one position. Why would a governor serve for 8years and still come out to contest for the position of a senator? Or why would a governor serve for 8years and still hold a huge position e.g Minister of whatever? Why would an acting chairman be "acting" for years?
    Too many questions abeg.
    Such an embarrassing shithole country.

  4. Pondei's fainting was just too hilarious. If snake and monkey can swallow money in this same country, it will take a lot more than a fainting professor appearing before a committee to shock me. Everything is a joke in Nigeria

  5. Buhari is not shocked yet. No wake up call. They should continue. Shebi Nigerians are lazy people.

    No one is ready to die. Me am not ready to die for this country. So let's enjoy the new old borthers show they are showing.

    I want to faint oool

  6. It can only be Reuben Abati,nice write up.
    Let the drama continue.

  7. NDDC exposé will be child's play of this kind of prove is taken to Customs,Army, Ministry of works,FIRS.

  8. It's not only wake up. He will surely be surprised as usual, that if he chose to chuk mouth.ay God help Nigeria.

  9. Ms Joi and Mr Akpabio chop money period

  10. Their allocation in South south alone topple Lagos state that has the biggest population but nothing to show in the south south. I'm sure PMB is behind it, he is the one supporting them,lol.

    1. Hausa man is to be blame for the stupidity f Niger Deltans ?
      So it's hausa man that's been confessing for misappropriation of fund ?
      You guys are just blind intellectually.

  11. Buhari, wake up from where or what! One who doesn't sleep nor are telling to wake. Wake indeed! I'm so pained by all the recent 'confessions and revelations'.

  12. A show of shame, embarrassment, disgrace etc, then I felt a gush of anger😤😤 & lastly a wave of sorrow😞😞 for the Niger Deltans. i.e. to begin with before the country as a whole. Pathetic, just pathetic.

  13. Wake up call how? What is the difference between buhari and the rest? Mtcheeeewww

    1. Sit down and be asking.
      You see a clear issue, you're asking question like a toddler.
      So it's Buhari that's heading Niger Delta affairs ?
      Be there, looking for who to blame. NDDC is been there before Buhari and will remain when he leave, no outsider heading the commission, it's the same Niger Deltans themselves but you didn't see that.

  14. Our politicians are shamelessly greedy and wicked! Even those probing the MD are doing so cos they didnt get their cut of the money. Once they settle them na, the probe will die a natural death.

    I'm tired of this country jare

  15. Wake up call indeed, I read somewhere like that, where Akpabio said members of the house of Assembly or Rep benefited from the NNDC contracts

  16. 81 billion could not be accounted for,they shared it all,1.8 billion was shared during the COVID-19 lockdown,within 2 months,hnmmmmm,while they were locking people up in their homes without any palliatives,some people were busy sharing money,God,at this point only you can help Nigeria.

  17. The Niger Delta people should be out by now protesting but they are all the same, none of them want development n their land, all they want is just to lay their hands on the people find and share it
    Where are people like pa Edwin Clark, Joseph Eva and the rest, the Asari Dokubos of this world ?

    If it's about hausa Fulani matter now, they will all be out and about barking like a rabid dogs by now.
    Multinational companies can't do anything in that land without first paying to the youths and the leader just to bring normal amenities to the poor people.

    I have never see people hat are do mean and wickedness to his own people like Niger Deltans.

  18. Dr Abati,

    Just incase you see this response;I always read every single one of your write ups. I may not agree with everything, but I love the way you have a tango with words. Kudos sir.

    That said, in response to this article and the comments of some of my fellow Bv's, how do we comfortably ship this unbelievable THEFT on the present President(alone)? Is he not the one that called for this probe? For those that aren't following this shameful series, please watch if you have the time or research and get the transcripts for the deliberations so that we can see how far back this has been going on.( By the way, it was alleged yesterday that even during this probe, expenses are still being made without budgetary approval).

    When are we going to put the blame on the table of the actual perpetrators and not the perceived enemies?

    Where are the south South governors? Where are the leaders that usually agitate on behalf of the Niger Deltans? Chief Mrs Briggs and co.
    Where are the traditional leaders? Where are the senators, house of rep members, minsiters from the region? Chief Edwin Clark, where are you sir?

    Why is there this very loud silence? Why did the chairman of the committee quickly gag Senator Akpabio when senator Akpabio alleged that 60% of the contracts were awarded to NASS members?

    Where are the "youths" that are quick to allow themselves be used as sitting ducks against the military?!.

    When will we stop blaming the wrong person/ persons?

    Is this theft also the fault of the northerners?

    I have tried very hard to stay away from this particular discourse, but I just couldn't after reading some comments.

    The South South "citizens" stole from themselves. South South fathers and mothers, YOU ALL have been robbing and murdering your children.

    An absolute shame!

  19. The South/South had done themselves a lot of hurt! From the time of amnesty etc. Why would you do your people who are already being marginalized like this? Shouldn't Pondei and co use this opportunity of covid 19 to show their impact to their people by giving the people of Niger delta palliatives as per people who have rich resources? They suffer pollution, educationally under privileged etc. yet the major resources that sustains the nation is from their place, But No! They rather shared the "palliatives" among themselves that are already rich while the poor Niger deltans have been chased inside their homes with nothing to eat just like other states in Nigeria and asked to stay at home to stay safe! America was locked down with some money in the hands of the citizens, why didn't Trump as bad as he is perceived to be call the law makers and share the money among themselves and keep warning the citizens to stay home with empty stomach to stay safe? The civilized man is civilized in all his actions, the uncivilized man even with PHD is still barbaric. Was I surprised that a professor could be playing this Tom and Jerry that Pondei is playing? No I'm not! He is supposed to be a technocrat and not a politician, an academician who should've used his position to correct the ills in the society, NO, he is still a Nigeria! Look at our image outside our country, we blame yahoo yahoo and 419 boys for spoiling our image yet what our so called leaders are doing is just worse than what this yahoo boys are doing. The main problem is not that they are looting, but the problem is that they are looting with impunity. Rather than hold this thieves accountable now, every body involved in the prosecution will want to be given his own share, once they're given their own share, the whole thing will be closed and only in the social media will it exist. I don't know if Buhari should get some blame because I am blaming the south southerners for what they are doing to themselves. But I will blame Buhari for always anointing every politician that joins his party, why would he appoint Akpabio as a minister knowing how corrupt he is? He did to same Amechi also, once they join his party and kiss his ass, their sins are forgiven, they can do no wrong and can't be held responsible for anything they did/do. On the contrary, those who oppose him gets punished severely at the slightest attempt at corruption that's where I'm blaming Buhari. Now that it is obvious that there's mismanagement of funds in NDDC and from the drama they are acting one will know that they messed up big time, let's keep our fingers crossed and see if they will go unpunished as usual because they are in the president's "good book".


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