The acting Executive Director of Finance and Administration, Niger Delta Development Commission is dead.
A source from a family friend in Uyo who spoke on condition of anonymity with Straightnews said the senior official, Ibanga Bassey Etang, died on Wednesday night after a brief but undisclosed illness.
Etang had served as the chairman of Esit Eket local government area in Akwa Ibom State and a Special Assistant on Projects to ex-Akwa Ibom Governor.
He is reported to have been absent from work at the commission’s headquarters in Port Harcourt throughout this week.
He was also conspicuously absent during the flag off of the distribution of coronavirus palliatives by the NDDC on May 22.
Mr. Etang died amid the Forensic Audit of the Commission ordered by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The National Assembly is also probing the finances of the Commission under its present Interim Management Committee.
His body has been wheeled to the ‘Holding Area’, called ‘COVID-19 Area’, of Braithwaite Memorial Hospital, Port Harcourt.
The director’s demise occurred amid probe of the NDDC by the Nigerian Senate.
The intervention agency is under investigation for alleged mismanagement of N40 billion.
On Wednesday, the Red Chambers of the National Assembly vowed to unearth the truth and expose the culprits.
On February 19, President Muhammadu appointed an Interim Management Committee (IMC) for the commission.
Joy Nunieh was replaced with Prof. Kemebradikumo Pondei as the Acting Managing Director.
Again, on February 26, Buhari approved the composition of a Monitoring Committee. Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio is the Chairman.
Two months later (April 30), the IMC tenure was extended from May 1 to December 31, 2020.
DAILY POST reports that in the past few years, the series of fire and hire, occasioned by alleged corruption and power play, seem to have dragged the agency to the background.
NDDC tasked with developing oil-producing states, remains enmeshed in scandals with no major prosecution of culpable officials.
Nigerians now await the report of the forensic audit ordered by the President, although many are skeptical about the outcome.
This is not unexpected as previous probes did not achieve much; officials indicted still walk freely.
The current audit, according to Akpabio, costs about N318 million. Messrs Olumuyiwa Bashiru and Co. are the lead consultants.
The minister added that estimated period given by the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) to conclude the exercise was nine months.
Meanwhile, the federal lawmakers have been charged to rescue the NDDC from “the grip of criminal elements in the ministry, the illegally constituted IMC and collaborators in the presidency.”
The call was made by Uwem Bassey Okon, Founder of the Akwa Ibom Patriotic Front.
A statement he issued on Thursday suggested that Etang was “poisoned to death.”
He said those behind the act wee desperate to frustrate the inquiry of the commission.
The rights activist said the situation at NDDC was an “injustice to the Niger Delta region and an unending debacle caused by executive recklessness.”
Okon declared that what is going on was “deliberately foisted to deny the oil rich region human capital and infrastructural development.”
The Akwa Ibom chief told the Senate that it has “the powers to resolve the ongoing charade in the NDDC and right the wrong it created.”
He accused the legislators of allegedly “caving in to coup” after they had vowed not to deal with “the illegal IMC unknown to the NDDC Establishment Act, 2000.”
“The National Assembly must assert its powers and cease all official dealings with the illegitimate body. The time to act is now and save the institution from being regarded as rubber stamp to the executive arm,” Okon charged.