In many sane climes in the world where the tenets of a good democratic system is been practiced, where governance at its best and proper definition is being practiced by all its component units which of course by definition implies the active participation of the elected officials which are the one governing, and the governed which are the people. A system or arrangement which justifies the Abram Lincoln definition of democracy which means, “a government of the people and by the people”. In climes like this certain elements and virtues which are needful to the successful usage of nation’s resources or better put communal wealth to advance the society for the good of all are held in high esteem.
Virtues like accountability, one which lies at the heart of any democratic government as it enables people to know how the government is doing and how to seek redress when things go wrong. It is a virtue which ensures that everyone that is the ones running the day to day affairs of any country or nation is doing.
Who elects a leader that they cannot question? Who gives power willingly every four years to officers that will later be the end of them, maybe you might want to think twice in answering that question, however you should not look far or search wild before getting the answers. The word is Nigeria. You do not have to be shocked at this blatant truth; it is right here staring at us all.
It is also a virtue that has been lost in the game book of the Nigerian national affairs, starting from the grass root to the highest ebb of its governance system. The recent show of shame in the upper chamber of the Nigerian legislative body where the Acting MD NDDC Prof. Daniel Pondei fainted after being questioned by the house panel. Pondei has been rushed out of the Conference room, venue of the investigative hearing on the illegal spending and mismanagement of funds which rocked the commission.
The commission has been rocked with various allegations of funds mis-management, embezzlement among many other illegal activities. For an agency which was created to speed up the development of the oil producing region of the country, but has completely derailed from the sole aim and objectives as to why the commission was created for.
Narratives surrounding the Niger Delta Development commission (NCDC) of recent has more than the obvious shown and exposed the high level of rots which has steered the commission from the ideology upon which it was funded.
Created in the year 2000 by the Chief Olusegun Obasanjo administration to replace the oil mineral producing areas development commission (OMPADEC), the NDDC raised the hopes of the people of the nine states covered by the interventionist agency for speedy development and freedom from the environmental hazards, arising from the activities of the oil and gas companes in the area. The states covered by the commission are Rivers, Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Edo, Delta, Ondo, Imo and Abia.
The expectations of the people of the Niger Delta upon the creation of the commission included the formulation of policies and guidelines for the development and growth of the area. This included the putting up of transportation facilities like good roads, jetties and waterways, also included were health, employment for its youths, industrialization, agricultural development, housing, urban development, water supply, electricity and telecommunications.
With the wealth that this region created and contributed to the national treasury, it was expected that the region was meant to be among the most developed in terms of growth in the country. It is however a sorry and displeasing tale to see the region and its people continually waste away in endless hopelessness as the people who has been put in charge to oversee the growth and development of the region has chosen to use the platform given to them to enrich themselves and cart away the communal wealth that should have been used to put in place both tangible and intangible legacies that will be a proof or fruits of its democratic system.
The gravity of the allegations made against the commission leaves so much to be wept for as the region could have benefitted immensely from the mis-managed funds, it was reported that the commission had wasted away N80bn (US$206 Million) between October 29, 2019 and May 31, 2020.
Details from the investigation by the upper chamber revealed that the Acting MD had stated that the agency disbursed N5million to youth groups in each senatorial district in the nine Niger Delta states. Women groups and the physically challenged got the same amount. With each state having three senatorial district, the nine Niger Delta States collectively have 27 senatorial districts. This by implications meant that these three groups of youths, women, and the physically challenged got N405,000.000 in each state. If this is multiplied by the nine Niger Delta States, it adds up to N3.6Billion. Pondei also added that this was in addition of food items which were purchased and distributed in the region as covid-19 palliatives. With the entire population of Akwa-Ibom standing at 5.4 Million and that of the entire Niger Delta region estimate at about 30million, each citizen from that part of the country could have received N3million as COVID-10 relief. I am left dazzled as well as mesmerized at these figures.
This happening which has become a constant debacle in the trend of our national course has continued to leave us with so many questions which we have been asking with no viable answers. For a man given the responsibility to oversee a commission like the NDDC, yet could not account for the management of the resources given to him but had to resort to “fainting” as an escape route to avoid giving an account of how these funds has been managed, there is a huge need to change the narratives as our system has continually shown and proven that it does not put in enough checks and balances to curtail our so called leaders, public officers from going against the values and lawful principles which uphold our system.
For a government led by President Muhammadu Buhari which before assumption into power had prided itself as an anti-corruption government, yet its inception has seen to the various cases of corrupt practices, while the chief principal himself have chosen to surround himself with people whose public image has been soiled with various allegations of corruption and mass embezzlement of public funds. The recent case of Orji Uzor Kalu who was sentenced to the prison on the cases of corruption but was later released after serving few months in the jail as he was later released to continue his sojourn in the senate. This goes a long way to make a statement of how committed this government is in ensuring that government or public officials are made accountable of the funds given to them for the sole benefits of their respective communities.
More saddening is the fact that corruption has been institutionalized in the Nigerian system, every single component from the family to all other setting in the nation has been immersed in the waters of corruptions. The nation is currently battling raising a generation that glorifies and normalize corruption and other immoral way of life. If this system is left unchecked, dark and low lies the future that comes for the nation Nigeria.
It is high time that the Nigerian Nation does not elect leaders who are more concerned with personal glorification, but those who are more concerned with communal development and growth. A recently published book by Mr Debo Onifade titled, “Liberating Nigeria: A guide to winning Elections and Reviving our Country”’ offers more insight how why we as a nation should be more conscious of our decisions in electing leaders into our public offices. Also it is high time the country is revolutionized in a way that will see to it that it does not accommodate corrupt tendencies. If the Buhari led administration is truly sincere about its anti-corruption stand, then the process should not be made to be seen as a witch-hunting process where only the members of the oppositions are only persecuted.
Our system must come to give a great significance to the virtue of accountability; our public offices must be seen as a platform to help others, reach out to address societal ills and inadequacies, prepare for the future and not just use it to enrich one without giving any recourse to the virtue of accountability.
The nation Nigeria has at its disposal both the human and natural resources which she can use to develop the country, however this cannot be possible if our leaders continue to abuse the system. The struggle is for all including the nation’s elite. They must come to understand that their continual silence will not solve anything, and as a result of this, they have to rise up to the challenge and be intentional in the fight against un-accountability in the Nigerian Nation