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How Politicians Destroyed NDDC -Ex-Director

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A former Director with the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Sir Chris Ajoku, has attributed the rot in the interventionist agency to the penchant of  politicians to appropriate the funds of the commission to sponsor their political ambitions.
The former director in the Agric and Business Development Directorate of the  NDDC, who spoke with The Tide on the institutional crisis rocking the agency, said the NDDC’s original mandate and objective of developing the Niger Delta region had been compromised and overtaken by partisan interests, making the commission a “ conduit pipe and platform for massive rigging to fund selfish political ambitions. “
He pointed out that from the inception of the NDDC in the Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration, successive managements had lost touch with development of the Niger Delta but gambled with the destiny of the  Niger Delta people through the misappropriation of the development funds for Niger Delta communities.
He said, “ the rot in the NDDC started with the first board, which first of all disengaged all the experienced directors and key staff of the agency and replaced them with their cronies to satisfy their ulterior motives of looting the NDDC funds to sponsor their political ambitions. “Sir Ajoku also frowned at what he described as the “compromise and complicity” of supervising bodies over the agency.
He said,” the different layers of supervising bodies or oversight personnel, agencies and politicians from States to the National Assembly all descended on the NDDC, cornering most of the projects which were in most cases not executed,but payments made often times, with built in profits for them in the NDDC budget before passage “
According to the ex Director, another major setback in the agency was the undue influence of powerful political patrons over the management of the the agency who were mostly positioned to do the biddings of their masters at the expense of the development of the Niger Delta.
He explained that such major political actors influenced the passage of the NDDC budgets by inflating contracts which are layer sold out at the rate of 10% contract value, and having the contracts paid of front to collect the over blotted sums.
Sir, Ajoku who commended the Federal Government over the forensic audit of the NDDC decried the abuse of tenders rules in the award of NDDC contracts which results in financial recklessness and abandoning of projects in the Niger Delta region.
He recalled that former President Goodluck Jonathan directed that new contracts should not be awarded in the Commission until old ones are completed but a new term “ Emergency Projects” was introduced in the NDDC. “
The former NDDC Director who faulted the concept of Interim Management in the NDDC called for a review of the NDDC act to address the development challenges in the Niger Delta by making the people to play active economic roles in the development of the region

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Govs To Hold Virtual Meeting On Judicial, Legislative Autonomy

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The Governors of the 36 states of the federation will hold a virtual meeting today to further discuss the issue of financial autonomy to judicial and legislative arms in states.
This is contained in a statement by NGF Head of Media and Public Affairs, Mr Abdulrazaque Bello-Barkindo on Monday in Abuja.
Bello-Barkindo said efforts were already being made in all states to either constitute State Accounts Allocation Committees (SAAC) or inaugurate them.
This, according to him, is preparatory to the granting of full autonomy to the two arms of government at the subnational level.
The Judicial Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) and the Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria (PASAN) had since embarked on a nationwide strike on the issue.
He said the governors had been working day and night to establish modalities for the autonomy in conformity with the provisions of the Constitution.
He said that the governors would also be updated on the activities of the Presidential Steering Committee on Covid-19 by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta, who headed the governors’ interface with the committee.
Bello-Barkindo said that the meeting would also review the agenda of the National Executive Council (NEC), which would take place a day after.
“Other items on the agenda include the regular update on the States’ Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability for results (SFTAS) to provide states’ status on their DLI’s and upcoming deadlines.
The meeting would also receive presentation from the Director General, Bureau of Public Enterprises, regarding unlocking liquidity through sale/optimisation of state-owned redundant/sub-optimal assets,” he said.
He added that the Policy Development Facility (PDF) bridge programme would also discuss diversification and non-oil export opportunities for states in post Covid-19 era.

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2023: PDP Flexes Muscle Over C’ River

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Leading members of the main opposition PDP converged in Calabar, Cross River at the weekend to strategise on how to retain its grip on power in the state.
This is contained in a statement e-mailed to newsmen in Abuja, yesterday.
The Tide source reports that the PDP has been in power in Cross River since the return of democracy in the country 22 years ago but the defection of the current governor appears to mark a turning point.
Political pundits argue that the defection of the state Governor Ben Ayade from the PDP to the ruling APC may affect the fortunes of the PDP in the years ahead.
The governor’s departure is now seen as a major test for the PDP in what is now seen as a game of wits between the PDP and the APC.
Addressing the party’s chieftains, the National Chairman of the party, Mr Uche Secondus, declared that Cross River would “remain the stronghold of the PDP, in spite of Gov. Ayade’s defection.
“PDP will work to retain the confidence the people of Cross River State reposed in our party and retain its dominance in the state.
“Our party has governed since the return of party politics in 1999.
“Cross River will remain the stronghold of our party well after 2023,’’ said Secondus, flanked by other chieftains of the party, including Sen. Bukola Saraki and Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State.
Secondus told PDP members in the state to remain resolute to make the party retain power in the upcoming general elections.
Also speaking, a former governor of the state, Sen. Liyel Imoke, gave assurance that no other party would take the state from the PDP, “being the dominant party in the state.
“PDP is the only party known to our people. I assure the leadership of our party that we will deliver victory in 2023,’’ he stated.
Imoke governed the state from 2007 to 2015 when he handed over to Ayade now of the APC.
Other PDP chieftains, who were present at the event included former Governor Peter Obi of Anambra, former Gov. Donald Duke of Cross River and the Chairman of the party’s Caretaker Committee, Mr Efiok Cobham.
Also present were Hon. Daniel Asuquo, Hon. Etta Mbora and Hon. Essien Ayi, all serving members of the House of Representatives among other party’s chieftains.

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…Vows To Take Over Anambra

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The Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Anambra, Chief Ndubuisi Nwobu, says the party remains focused to take over the state in the upcoming governorship poll.
Nwobu said this in an interview with newsmen in Awka yesterday, adding that he would not be distracted by those trying to destabilise the party in the state.
He lauded the National Executive Committee of the party for organising successful ward congresses in the state.
He described the success of the exercise as a sure step to the party’s free, fair and credible primary election.
“We want to conduct our primary election, where party people will freely vote and produce a candidate that will be acceptable to Anambra people at the November 6 poll.
“This is not time for distractions. We are focused on taking over government from the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).
“The party has shortchanged millions of Anambra people in terms of governance.
Nwobu said he remained the valid chairman of PDP in Anambra, having emerged from a valid process that was upheld by a Federal High Court in its May 24, 2018 judgment.
He said the judgment had not been reversed by any higher court and was “unfazed by any court judgment”, which purportedly removed him.
“My leadership is still subsisting, no superior court has set that judgment aside and a court of coordinate jurisdiction cannot do that.
“Our team of legal experts is taking care of that. The decision to appeal will be advised,” the PDP chairman said.
The Tide source reports that Chief Chukwudi Umeaba at the weekend announced that he had taken over the party in the state as the Acting Chairman of the Caretaker Committee.
Umeaba, who announced the suspension of the ward congresses, said his action was predicated on the judgment of an Abuja Federal High Court.
According to him, the judgment delivered on June 9, nullified the process that produced Nwobu’s leadership.

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