STAKEHOLDERS AMPLIFY VOICES TO DEMAND A HOLISTIC APPROACH TO FIGHTING CORRUPTION IN THE NDDC

The reoccurring trend of corrupt practices in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and the lack of concrete efforts and the political will on the side of the government to tackle these malfeasances have attracted debates from the media, CSOs, and community groups in the Niger Delta Regions.
On the 24th of June, 2022, policy analysts, members of Civil Society Organizations, and relevant stakeholders of the Niger Delta Regions converged on a Twitter Space organized by Social Action and the MacArthur’s Foundation to discuss a holistic approach to addressing the rot in the NDDC.

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SOCIAL ACTION CALLS FOR A STRENGTHENED REGIONAL MECHANISM FOR CORRUPT-FREE AND IMPROVED NDDC

The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) was established as an intervention agency for the oil-producing states in the Niger Delta region. It was formed to drive the development of the region and to promote the livelihood of the people in the region, but the sad reality today is the grand corruption the NDDC is repulsively enmeshed in.
The numerous challenges that have affected the performance of the agency have over the years impacted negatively on the economic and social development of the Niger Delta people. Communities in the region are suffering from consistent ecological challenges caused by oil explorations that have affected their livelihood; many communities remain inaccessible by roads, with little or no access to healthcare, quality education, and an army of unemployed youths. These are poignant reminders of the abundant challenges the region collectively faces.
As we recognize the devastating impact of a corrupt agency like NDDC, we also note that those most affected are the poorest and indeed the most vulnerable people of the region. Social Action recognizes the significant role the entire Niger Delta region can play. The effort and commitment to rebrand and restructure the NDDC for the most advantageous performance should be chiefly driven by the affected region. Regional efforts to rid the agency of corruption, strengthen and increase the effectiveness of the agency should be intensified, while stressing the importance of the federal government’s cooperation.

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THE ARREST OF MRS PATRICIA ETTEH AND MR NSIMA EKERE OVER NDDC CONTRACT SCAM AND FRAUD; A STEP IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION: SOCIAL ACTION CALLS FOR MORE INVESTIGATION AND PROSECUTION OF ALLEGED CORRUPT PUBLIC OFFICIALS, AND THE INAUGURATION OF THE NDDC BOARD.

The news of the arrest of a former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mrs. Patricia Etteh, and Mr. Nsima Ekere a former Managing Director of the NDDC by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in connection with NDDC contract scam and fund diversion is a welcome development. Mrs. Etteh was arrested in connection with an N240 million contract scam while Mr. Ekere was arrested on Wednesday 18 May, 2022 in connection with the diversion of N47billion. Mrs. Etteh’s arrest was over an unexplainable N130 million transferred to her personal account from Phil Jin Project Limited, a firm that was awarded the N240millon contract by the NDDC. Mr. Ekere on the other hand was alleged to have diverted funds through registered contractors. It would be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019 had ordered the forensic audit of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) due to public outburst over the monstrous corruption and impunity going on in the NDDC. These two arrests are indications that no corrupt public officials will go unpunished.

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COMMUNIQUE OF THE REGIONAL ACCOUNTABILITY CONFERENCE 2022: BEYOND THE FORENSIC AUDIT – REPOSITIONING THE NDDC

Communique of the Regional Accountability Conference 2022: Beyond the Forensic Audit – Repositioning the Niger Delta Development Commission for Inclusive and Effective Service Delivery

 

PREFACE

Social Development Integrated Centre (Social Action) with support from the MacArthur Foundation successfully organized the 2022 Regional Accountability Conference with the theme, Beyond the Forensic Audit – Repositioning the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) for inclusive and effective service delivery. The conference, which was held at Visa Karena Hotels, Port-Harcourt, Rivers State, on Thursday, February 24, 2022, was attended by various stakeholders from anti-corruption agencies and committees, traditional rulers, civil society groups, community groups, and the Media.

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FG TWITTER BAN: SOCIAL ACTION DEMANDS THE LIFTING OF THE PROHIBITION

PRESS RELEASE                                                                                       JUNE 12, 2021

It is sad to note that the Nigerian state appeared to have entrenched autocratic style of leadership. The Buhari led administration continues to prove that it has no reserve for who and whatever questions its authority. This has been evident in its policies aimed at shrinking the civic space and silencing popular voices against dictatorial and non-democratic leadership and bad governance.

It would be recalled that Twitter had deleted a tweet by the President which violated its “abusive behaviour” and suspended his account for 12 hours. The controversial tweet by the President was seen as a direct affront on Nigerians and a threat to a very dissent voice in the country. The tweet referred to the Nigerian Civil War and to treating “those misbehaving today” in the “language they will understand”. Thousands of Nigerians had reacted angrily to the tweet spurring the delete of it.

Displaying an unending level of impunity, the Government on June 4 announced the suspension of the micro-blogging platform. The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed in a statement accused Twitter of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence with its “double standards”.

Stakeholders in the civil right community view this move by the federal government as a deliberate attempt to gag the masses and muzzle free expression which has potentially devastating implications for democracy and the civic space.

Ironically, the existence of Nigeria is threatened by the improvidence of the present administration. The Government has not only failed to be pro-active in tackling insecurity challenges and unemployment among others but has decided to remain silent. Unemployment has risen above 33%, food inflation stands at about 23.%  and the government grappled with a public debt stock of over N32 trillion. They seem to have ignored these weightier empirical indices but are perturbed with the action of Jack Dorsey which they felt hurt the  ego of the President.

The agitation for secession by groups is threatening to tear the country yet the President unscrupulously utters instigating words targeted at a group and expected to get away with it.

Social media users in Nigeria and Diaspora continue to express their disgust in governance. The social platforms offer Nigerians opportunities to connect in form of tweet and grow their business. Twitter, like many other social media has provided more job opportunities to youths than the government has ever considered. Yet the government is determined to stop its usage in the country.

Social Action frowns at the stringent conditions set by the government on Wednesday for the release of the ban. Asking a global micro-blogging platform to be registered under CAC and licensed by the NBC is not only illogical but a fight with technology. The terms and conditions offered for the lifting of the suspension on Twitter is nothing but a deliberate attempt to shut down a viable source of revenue of Nigerians and disable freedom of speech.

As social actors, we do not support the ban or the threat by the Attorney general to prosecute anyone who try to circumvent the Twitter ban. This is in conflict with Section 36(12) of the 1999 constitution which clearly states that for a person to be arrested, detained or prosecuted for a criminal offence,” there must be a written law”. This provision makes it impossible for the government to carry out this threat on the masses. Any action contrary to the provision of the constitution, would define this government as fully-fledged authoritarian and would declare war on the civic space.

In line with Article 19 of UN declaration of Human Rights, Social Action calls on the Federal Government, to lift the ban on twitter. Nigerians must be allowed to “receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers”.

As Nigeria marks another year of democratic rule, we urge the federal government to reconsider their actions and lift the ban on twitter. They should channel their powers instead on addressing salient issues in the country like the spate of insecurity and providing job opportunities for the youths.

Until our voices are heard, we won’t stop!

Signed

 

 

 

 

RISING DEBT PROFILE: SOCIAL ACTION CALLS FOR CAUTION AND PRUDENCE TO SAVE THE NATION FROM COLLAPSE.

Social Action notes with serious concern that Nigeria seemed to have been trapped in another web of indebtedness barely fifteen years after the Paris Club debts cancellation under the debt-buy-back deal. The insatiable quest and penchant for borrowing has again reared its ugly head under the current administration with the nation’s debt profile skyrocketing with each passing day. Despite public outcry, the Buhari-led administration has continued on a reckless trajectory of borrowing that has seen the country’s debt profile rise to $86billion with external debts component soaring to $33billion. In what appears to be another display of flagrancy, the Senate on April 21st approved a whooping sum of $1.5billion and €995m loans for the Federal Government even when some members of the Senate raised concerns over what they termed unnecessary loan.

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PIB: A Call For Adequate Public Participation

Social Action led concerned CSO and host communities to make representation at the Public Hearing on the PIB at the Media Centre of the National Assembly Complex, Abuja

Introduced in 2008 at the Federal Government’s instance, the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) now has a reputation for being one of the oldest and most contentious bills in Nigeria’s legislative history. Corruption, bad politics and deeply vested interests have all combined to ensure that the bill remains a miscarriage. It is a bill that is promoted as one that would sanitise the petroleum industry in Nigeria, improve benefits to the national economy and address the environmental and social costs borne by host communities. However, since its introduction 13 years ago, the bill has suffered several unfortunate and avoidable setbacks. That is why there was heightened expectation when the Muhammadu Buhari government reintroduced the PIB as an executive bill to the 9thNational Assembly, which promised to speedily pass the bill into law by the second quarter of 2021.

In line with its standing orders and house rules, the National Assembly announced a public hearing on the bill. The public hearing was expected to provide an avenue for public input into the bill and capture all the concerns by different interests. Public hearings, organised as part of the law-making process, enable the coalescing of recommendations from critical stakeholders to enable legislators to produce legislation that best serves the national interest, which cannot be divorced from citizens’ good.

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The Petroleum Industry Bill Must Address Environmental Pollution and Concerns of Oil-Bearing Communities

Text of a Press Briefing by Social Action and Key Civil Society Organisations

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Abuja, FCT, Nigeria

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen of the Media, we have organised this briefing to call public attention to major flaws in the federal government’s proposals in the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), and our concerns about the manner the National Assembly has managed the Public Hearings on the Bill. Like most Nigerians, we believe that a new set of laws are necessary to govern the petroleum industry in Nigeria. However, the PIB’s proposals, as it is, would promote environmental impunity in the oil industry and exacerbate social dislocation in the oil-bearing communities in the Niger Delta.

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Nigeria’s severe economic recession: a wake-up call for the Government

The recent announcement by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) that Nigeria has fallen into an economic recession portends that the nation’s economy contracted in the last two quarters of the year spanning April to September, 2020. The second quarter (April – June) witnessed a decline in gross domestic product (GDP) growth by -6.10%, while in the third consecutive quarter (July – September), the GDP further shrunk by -3.62%. The news of the country’s slide into economic recession has elicited reactions from stakeholders across the country. The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed in her response, stated that, “While the economy entered into recession in the third quarter (July – September, 2020), the trend of the growth suggests that this will be a short-lived recession and indeed by the fourth or, at worst, the first quarter of 2021, the country will exit recession”.

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