Staff of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) have lamented the ‘unacceptable’ interference in the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs which they accused of plotting to subsume but, run as a department under the Ministry.
‘The Commission is strictly an interventionist agency and will not be run like a Department under the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs,’ NDDC staff resolved at an emergency meeting.
The emergency meeting held on Thursday at the Commission’s Headquarters, Port Harcourt following the cancellation of a meeting earlier scheduled by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry who eventually failed to honour it after several postponements by him.
NDDC Union chairman, Mr. Gbendo Anthony, while addressing staff at the union’s emergency meeting reminded that ‘the Commission was not created to be under any Ministry else it would have been stated in the NDDC Act of 2000’. Section 7 sub-section (3) of the Act subjects the Commission to the supervision of the President, Commander-in-Chief-of -the Armed Forces of Nigeria. Hence, all powers to carry out functions as a commission were given to the NDDC by the President’.
In recent times, the NDDC has had several face-off with the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs over uncertainty of jurisdiction and control. The NDDC, which is an agency under the Presidency was not supposed to be administered by any Ministry or Department, nor was it supposed to be controlled by the Head of Civil Service.
However, there are rumours of the termination of employment of staff of NDDC by the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs on the basis of wage bill. This, the staff union said ‘is totally unacceptable as the Commission is well funded to provide for the needs of the Niger Delta people and this action has caused pains and sorrows for affected individuals which is not part of the mandate of the NDDC.
‘Staff can no longer focus on their jobs because of fear of the unknown. Sir, the Ministry of Niger Delta cannot be a Nightmare to the Commission!
‘Sir, it has also come to the notice of the Union by sources from our National Body (AUPCTRE) that there is a plan to execute an illegal transfer/transfer of service of staff from the NDDC to the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs and vice versa.
‘Sir, the union will like to remind you and the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs that the Ministry has its own budget which is approved yearly and there is no merger between the NDDC and the Ministry under the Act . The Commission is strictly an interventionist agency and will not be run like a Department under the Ministry,’ NDDC staff union’s communique reads.
According to Mr. Gbendo, the Union has decided to put an end to the ‘frequent blackmail and embarrassment caused by the various external bodies that visit the Commission as this projected the NDDC in a bad image and also affected the morale and focus of staff in their various localities’.
He added that the Union will formally write to Mr. President (copying NLC, AUPCTRE, Attorney General and SGF) seeking a formal letter to personally ratify and conform the powers of supervision of the Commission as stated in Section 7 sub- section(3) of the NDDC Act of 2000 and constitute a board with the 9 Niger Delta States fully represented.
This board, if constituted, according to NDDC Corporative Chairman, will ‘relieve the current Interim Administrator of pressure as most of the pressure could be handled by board representatives of all respective member states,’ Paul Emerhana, NDDC Corporative Chairman advised.