An Open Letter To Mr. President:
The revelations on infernal corruption, unimaginable graft, and stupefying sharp practices at the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, have not come at all as a surprise to those familiar with the antecedents of the dramatis personae involved in the saga that has been unfolding at the commission ever since you made a character like Godswill Akpabio, Minister for Niger Delta Affairs.
In spite of these weighty transgressions and wanton untowardness now ravaging the commission, you yet managed to see fit to extend the already unlawful mandate of Akpabio’s illegal interim management committee till December in what is justifiably perceivable as a presidential nod for the continued looting of the NDDC!
You may prefer to continue to play the ostrich, Mr. President, but it is quite clear to men of character and truth that the entire motivation behind Akpabio’s desperate takeover of the NDDC is squarely and firmly anchored on corrupt intent. The forensic audit which you most admirably recommended as an urgent priority for the commission has not only been relegated to the background but has in fact been masterfully converted into a mere smokescreen under the cover of which unbridled looting of the commission is being perpetrated on a truly heinous scale.
In truth, it is you, Your Excellency, and not Akpabio or his minions, that has been made to look very bad to your Niger Deltan constituents thanks to the utterly shameful scale of graft and other sharp practices currently ravaging the NDDC. Akpabio never had any credibility with our people and none of us ever expected anything good from him as Minister. This is a former two-term Governor with such woefully depleted political capital that he couldn’t even win his own senatorial district and wouldn’t summon the courage to contest a court ordered rerun, knowing full well that he would not only be trounced once more but would, in fact, be comprehensively disgraced all over again.
If we are to tell ourselves the bitter truth, it is you that the people are actually disappointed with. They let bygones be bygones and by and large endeavoured to give you a minimum of one quarter of their votes in the last elections in most states in the South-south geopolitical heartland of the Niger Delta. They believed in you and trusted you to cater to their welfare, concerns and aspirations.
Now rumours and even news reports keep flying about that your recently diseased ex chief of staff was the brains behind Akpabio’s shenanigans in the commission and that in the wake of his unfortunate demise, Her Excellency and your brothers are angling to move in and takeover the commission with yet another interim management contraption of their own machination!
Mr. President, this is most embarrassing, and while I would rather not believe such reports nor place much store in conspiracy theories, most Niger Deltans do believe these stories and have formed the impression that the entire logic behind the scuttling of the authentic lawfully envisaged board constituted for the NDDC and duly screened and approved by the Senate of the Federal Republic was predicated on “your brothers” taking over the commission as yet another cash cow and personal automated teller machine, ATM!
Your Excellency, with a largely moribund and rather ineffective Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, the NDDC is really all the Niger Deltan people have and you cannot begin to imagine the dismay and chagrin with which they must receive any signals that even this one concession extended to them will nevertheless be commandeered by your relations and members of your staff!
Funny enough, many of these suspicions actually arise from the nauseating posturing and grandiose boastfulness of Akpabio and his co-travellers whose penchant for name-dropping in their frenzied state-capture of the common patrimony of all Niger Deltans has been a regular hallmark of their rascality thus far.
If you had been minded from the onset to simply follow the law, institute the substantive board, commence with a genuine forensic audit and not been misguided into brazenly breaking the law by constituting a patently illegal interim management committee which apparently unbeknownst to you had been configured all along as nothing but a veritable vehicle for the most shamefully corrupt practices, these utterly disgusting developments would not have emerged to denigrate your intervention in the affairs of the commission.
The NDDC belongs to the people of the Niger Delta and it is all they have at the level of the Presidency. It does not belong to immediate or extended members of the First Family nor is it liable to be appropriated by your aides and their clients in the Federal Executive Council!
Impressions matter a lot and where they howsoever happen to be wrong, they should be immediately corrected by measures anchored on honour, honesty and truth in order to set things aright while setting the records straight.
The Niger Deltan people are beginning to feel that you hate them or, at any rate, do not have their interests at all at heart and that even the one and only thing they can truly lay claim to, at the level of your very office, you have become minded to deny them and give instead to interests from your natal region.
I would consider you, anytime, any day as someone to whom the Lord has been especially merciful. Imagine the trials, tribulations and struggles He has been gracious enough to see you through and how renewed and restored you now look today, indeed to the appreciation and thanksgiving of those of us who would always wish our fellowmen well, whatever differences we might have with them!
But God is not a respecter of persons and, whether you realise it or not, from prisoner to President, we are all nothing before Him!
Those he is most minded to punish and humble are them in whom pride and arrogance, vainglory and obstinacy are found. Mr. President, at your age you should be very much exercised about the legacy you will leave behind for it will be your defense before God when finally, you stand before Him in judgment, naked as you came into this world without an army of supporters or retinue of aides, and, nothing but the truth of your deeds here on Earth to speak for you!
Today is always the day of salvation, things can be set right still and you should do so forthwith. Akpabio and the ridiculous characters in his interim management committee have no history of fighting corruption and clearly have no intention of doing so. On the contrary, it has become crystal clear what the agenda was all along, and it is a huge dent on your image and reputation as the one on whose desk the buck must finally stop.
We need our NDDC back Mr. President; we need it immediately and do so with a proper representative board as provided for in the enabling law of the commission.
Your Excellency, however impoverished your political credibility has become, you still have a little political capital left in the estimation of the Niger Deltan people. You simply cannot afford to keep giving out the impression that you are not in charge of your administration or in control of your government and that your appointees can do anything, including apparently commit blue murder right under your nose, no questions asked! Worst of all, you cannot allow the impression that you are hands in gloves with these scoundrels or that you, at any rate, approve of their perfidious preoccupations to continue to gain currency.
Mr. President, this madness has to stop immediately and we are relying on, and waiting for you to put an immediate stop to it.
Barr. Jesutega Onokpasa,
Onokpasa, a lawyer and commentator on national issues, wrote from Warri.