Why we support leadership, forensic audit of NDDC -Group

* Workers allege Commission’s breach of  guidelines on appointments, promotions, discipline

Alexander Davis | ConsumerConnect
In relation to the new leadership with a fresh mandate at the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), in Nigeria, rights activists under the aegis of the Niger Delta Activists Forum (NDAF) have said that they are in support of the forensic audit that President Muhammadu Buhari ordered recently.

Donald Igudia, Delta State Chairman of NDAF, and Andrew Efole, Legal Adviser, in a statement, expressed their support for the newly inaugurated leadership of the NDDC, according to reports.

The statement indicates that the group is on the front lines of agitation for a better region through peaceful and intellectual means.

The group said: “We totally support this leadership of the NDDC and the forensic audit that it was commissioned to oversee.

“This is because, it is our brainchild and we will continue to support and stand, by the Commission and the Honourable Minister in this regard.

“The Niger Delta Activists Forum is a group that has been able to attract more than N150 billion development from the Federal Government to the region in the last twelve months, and should by no means continue to take the back seat on issues like this,” it said.

NDAF further stated: “We make bold to say that you can’t find or name any other group in this class. We will not fail to resist to the full, any disbursement scheme that does not give us chief consideration.

“We also want to affirm, that, our position is in the best interest of your Commission, since the Forum has the largest known coordinated, grassroots structure on the ground that has continuously, been machinery for peace.

“Be informed also, that our position as contained herein is with the full approval and authorisation, of our National President, Comrade Success Jack and the entire National leadership of NDAF.”

Meanwhile, ConsumerConnect learnt that concerned workers in the Niger Delta Development Commission have alerted Nigerians on an alleged breach of administrative guidelines in Civil Service regarding appointments, promotions and discipline in the Commission.

Whereas all government agencies are bound to abide by the general civil service rules on appointments, promotions and discipline, the NDDC under the Interim Management Committee (IMC), has ignored these, The Sun report said.

The disturbed NDDC personnel said the IMC had painted a picture that senior officials in the Commission recently sent on compulsory leave were affected because they could compromise the proposed forensic audit, the main reason is to cover up the malfeasance in NDDC.

In sending the officials away, the staff alleged that the IMC acted in breach as “Public Service Rule (PSR) No. 020810 provides for the retirement of a civil servant who has attained the age of 60 years or 35 years in service.

“But the IMC directed civil servants who still have two more years or less to stay in service to proceed on compulsory retirement.”

According to them, the IMC first gave the impression that it only asked the affected staff to go on paid-leave for the duration of the forensic-audit, only to turn round to say “some of those asked to go have been indicted by the EFCC.”

The affected staff quipped: “How can someone indicted for so long, a civil servant, still be in office?

“Even if that were so, under Rule 030301 of Section 3 of PSR which deals with misconduct, an officer must be informed in writing of the specific act of wrong doing or the improper behaviour inimical to the image of the organisation charged against him which must be investigated and proved before any disciplinary action can be taken against him.

“In this case, we do not even know those indicted, let alone whether there have been queries issued to anyone preparatory to action taken.”

They alleged arbitrary promotion of staff at the NDDC, “with letters distributed to staff between April and early May 2020, without formal tests or interviews as have been the practice.”

The workers said while the Civil Service Rules/Guidelines provides that staff on Grade Levels 8─14 must spend three years on a position before promotion and those on Levels 15─17 four years, “this rule has been thrashed by the interim management who even gave their favoured staff who have not spent the prescribed number of years double promotion, all without interview or test.”

They said there are two classes of staff in NDDC – those who are favoured “because they have been recruited for personal agenda and the rest of us who dutifully follow our jobs without eye service.”

The staff also faulted the set-up, where the Minister of Niger Delta, who supervises NDDC, is Chairman of the Presidential Monitoring Committee and a member of the Advisory Committee.

“So, in all, when the Presidential Monitoring Committee gives the IMC a clean bill, like they did during the advertised visit to the Commission, it is like Akpabio giving himself a pass mark after directing all the actions of the Commission.

“This is why we welcome wholeheartedly the National Assembly committees that have been asked to investigate the sharp practices in the NDDC as part of their oversight functions,” they stated.

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