Ijaw National Leader Edwin Clark on Wednesday raised the alarm over alleged plot to mutilate the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) Act.
He also said he is in support of the ongoing forensic audit of the agency to check massive corruption and irregularities.
But, he said President Muhammadu Buhari should constitute the board of the NDDC as soon as the forensic audit is completed.
The former Federal Information Commissioner, who also pleaded with President to complete the East-West Road blasted Niger Delta Affairs Minister Godswill Akpabio for his alleged interference in the running of NDDC.
He warned the NDDC Sole Administrator Effiong Akwa, who visited him at his Abuja home, against being Akpabio’s stooge.
Akpabio described Akwa as ”the message” and Akpabio as “the messenger,” warning that they must not mess up the NDDC.
While assuring Akwa of his backing, he said “we will ask the boys to give peace a chance.”
”I believe Akwa should have a free hand, not serving any minister,” Clark said against the backdrop of rumblings over his(Akwa) appointment as sole administrator.
His words: “The problem we have is constant interference in the affairs of the NDDC. There is a law governing the NDDC which we all participated in introducing and no one should bypass that law or breach it.
“Even Mr. President has no power to bypass the law establishing the NDDC except he has to go back to the National Assembly for any amendment. Any attempt to breach the law will become illegal, null, and void.
“They are trying to mutilate the law of the NDDC. As I said, no individual, including Mr. President, can change the law.
“There have been many arguments about sole administrator or board and the legality or illegality which have been discussed. But over the years, many sole administrators have been appointed. Some functioned for one year and some for less than one year. Even some members, who were directors as civil servants, have been appointed sole administrators and so on.
“But, we have been watching what is going on. The NDDC was under the Presidency and you know what happened. You know how the NDDC was seized by people who had no interest in Niger Delta matters. And you know we kicked against it. Many of us never believed that removing the NDDC from the Presidency to the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs was the best thing to do because it will be misused.
“But again, it was okay. Niger Delta Ministry is our own Ministry. Therefore, the NDDC going to Niger Delta Ministry should not be a bad idea.”
Clark said he had no issue with the appointment of Akwa but stressed that the NDDC should not be hijacked by the Minister. .
Looking directly at Akwa, he said: “I do hope that in your performance of duty you should have a free hand to perform your duties and not to be under the control of one minister.
“We believe in you but you are the message, Akpabio is the messenger. I will be 94 years old in May; I will be a dead man if I cannot say the truth. In doing your job, defend your profession, not who put you there.
“We know how it started but what we are opposed to is that the NDDC is an independent agency like any other one and it should be free to run its operation. In the other ministries, the ministers do not abandon their own ministries to go and concentrate on these agencies.”