Corruption Probe in NDDC, EFCC and NEDC: The Antithesis of Mandates:
Every government all over the world has a mandate to develop its people and society with whatever resources available. This mandate is not just an action that is imperative or obligatory alone, but also a constitutional provision that places those who hold the mandate of the people in trust under some oath to serve within the confines of the law.
Chapter two of Section 14, sub-section 2(b), of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria declares that, “ the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government”.
By this constitutional provision, it becomes inexcusable for any government, elected or appointed, not to adequately secure its people from both internal and external incursions, and cater for their welfare in whatever way possible.
This, apparently, justifies why governments at all levels set up institutions, agencies, parastatals, commissions, etc. as appendages to help fast-track this all-important constitutional obligation to the people.Such appendages are: Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) and the North East Development Commission (NEDC). There are other microcosms. However, the aforementioned are the burden of this expose’.
In the past few weeks, these appendages or microcosms of the government ( ie NDDC, EFCC and NEDC) have inundated the mass media more than a token, as well as bored the listener, viewer and reader alike with discordant tunes of allegations of corruption ranging from mismanagement of public funds, award of contracts without due process, disbursements of funds without accountability, re- looting looted funds, and such other misdemeanours that have constituted a heap of dent on the not- too- good image of the country.
In view of this derision or what could best be referred to as a travesty, the country is now battling between image redemption, especially on international scene,and corruption reduction in the affairs of men. Perhaps the ravaging effect of this canker-worm called corruption is the reason the former United States Vice President, Joe Biden said during a meeting in Bucharest with Romanian Civil Society groups and students in May, 2014 that “corruption is a cancer, a cancer that eats away at a citizen’s faith in democracy, diminishes the instinct for innovation and creativity”.
Corruption has indeed diminished Nigeria. This, apparently, explains the ongoing probe by the House of Representatives over alleged whopping 81.5 billion naira said to have been flagrantly withdrawn and fraudulently expended by both the past Interim Management Committee of the NDDC which was head by Joi Ninueh and the present, Prof. Kemebradikumo Pondei between October, 2019 and May, 2020. This amount, as jaw- breaking as it appears, is just one swoop on alleged corruption show out of many others that have not yet been unearthed for Nigerians to watch.
The case of the suspended EFCC chairman, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, over allegations of corruption ranging from re-looting recovered funds, sales of recovered asserts to cronies and friends, owning properties outside the country which run into billions of naira, among others, presents another episode of tragedy, perhaps more tragic than a murder in the cathedral. Many said it is the case of the hunter becoming the hunted.Well, with these revelations, one can attempt to think that there may be other associates or partners in alleged crime of the embattled chairman who may not have a clean bill of health, but can go off the hooks of justice, because in Nigeria, one is only a criminal when one is caught stealing.
Similarly, the House of Representatives recently raised an alarm over alleged100 billion naira misappropriated by the North East Development Commission, a sister commission to the NDDC.The House said the 100 billion naira fund was meant for infrastructural development in the North-East, but lamented that no infrastructure in the zone is credited to the NEDC. Also, the Coalition of New Nigeria Transparency and Anti-Corruption had raised another alarm, accusing the Managing Director of the commission, Mohammed Alkali, of corruption.
This is in addition to another high profile corruption allegation of N523. 3 million said to have been used by the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Farouq, to feed school children during the lockdown. Just like NDDC is under the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, North East Development Commission is under the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs. Unfortunately, these two commissions are on the trail of the monster called corruption.
According to the latest Transparency International Corruption Perception Index, Nigeria is ranked the second most corrupt country, out of the 15 countries that make up ECOWAS. Nigeria is also ranked 146 least corrupt nation out of 180 countries considered. I’m too sure that there is no ranking on earth that can vindicate Nigeria of corruption.
It is demoralising that, like a dull student in a class, Nigeria has maintained these positions for some years now, and there seems to be no sign that she is in a hurry to relinquish them anytime soon. One wonders if the menace is a pride to the nation, or part of our national character that the country cannot do without.
Given these despicable reports, one begins to reason that these interventionist agencies are indeed swimming with the whole of their bodies in the murky waters of corruption such that their establishment leaves one with one conclusion : that they were perhaps created and given a mandate to “train”and “graduate” looters who will deal with the commonwealth of the nation. Or how do we explain the fact that almost all the past NDDC Managing Directors have, at one point or the other, contested for governorship in their respective states after leaving office? As Pope Francis would say, “corruption is paid by the poor”.
There is no gain saying that all these commissions were established with mandates entirely infrastructure, but what most Nigerians cannot figure out up until now is the level of corruption play which obviously is the diametric opposite of the mandates of the commissions. It stands like a tower of Babel, so imposingly that it appears the cankerworm has been monumentalised.
According to the NDDC Act 2000, No. 6, which established the commission, the core mandate is: to conceive, plan and implement, in accordance with set rules and regulations, projects and programmes for the sustainable development of the Niger Delta area in the field of transportation, including roads, jetties and waterways, health, education, employment, industrialisation, agriculture and fisheries, housing and urban development, water supply, electricity and telecommunications.
Similarly, section 7 (2) of 2004 Amendment Act gives the EFCC the mandate, among other things; to combat economic and financial crimes, prevent, investigate, prosecute and penalise economic and financial crimes. It is also charged with the responsibility of enforcing the provisions of other laws and regulations relating to other crimes.
The North East Development Commission was signed into law in October, 2017, primarily to lead the reconstruction and development of the North- East that has been devastated by the activities of the insurgents.
A cursory look at all the mandates of these Commissions leaves no one in doubt as to their common mandate: to develop, develop and develop. But unfortunately for Nigeria and Nigerians, the current turn of events in these interventionist organs, you would agree, is a dangerous antithesis of their mandates.
However, for the Nigerian society to defeat corruption, words of a Mexican economist and diplomat, Angel Gurria, must be allowed to find expressions in all corridors of power. He said:“integrity, transparency and the fight against corruption have to be part of the culture. They have to be taught as fundamental values”.