Posted by By Daniel Alabrah on
All may not be well with the relationship between Vice President Goodluck Jonathan and the governors of some of the Niger Delta states.
All may not be well with the relationship between Vice President Goodluck Jonathan and the governors of some of the Niger Delta states. The governors and the Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Mr Ndutimi Alaibe, are said to be livid that Jonathan allegedly kept them in the dark while his office secretly prepared a document entitled "Niger Delta Stakeholders’ Draft Action Plan (NDSDAP)."
Sunday Sun learnt that the NDSDAP, which is a closely guarded document in the Presidency, was presented to President Umaru Yar’Adua on June 24, 2008 by an aide of the Vice President, at a meeting in the State House, Abuja.
In attendance at the meeting, according to our source, were the Vice President, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Ambassador Babagana Kingibe, the National Security Adviser (NSA), retired Major General Sarki Mukhtar, ministers and the NDDC MD.
After listening to the presentation and making some observations, Yar’Adua was said to have directed that the action plan be handed over to the Steering Committee of the shelved Niger Delta Summit before he left others at the meeting to attend to other state matters.
The 130-page NDSDAP, which is a detailed articulation of the Niger Delta situation, contains far-reaching proposals and recommendations/solutions and was meant to be the working document for the Steering Committee.
It was reportedly prepared by a five-man technical team that worked round the clock for about three months while sequestered in a building in the Maitama District in Abuja. The assignment was said to have been coordinated by the Niger Delta Desk in the Office of the Vice President headed by the Special Assistant on Special Duties.
Sunday Sun however learnt that the grouse of the governors and Alaibe is that Jonathan, who was himself a former governor of Bayelsa State, surreptitiously authored and endorsed the NDSDAP, which sought to whittle down their power to disburse funds and make them more accountable to the people of the region.
For instance, the action plan proposed monitoring and compliance mechanisms that would ensure that states in the region and other levels of government report to "various standing forums of stakeholders."
Besides, a key observation in the document was that over the last decade, federal, state and local governments, in concert with development organizations and private sector actors have implemented a variety of programmes aimed at improving the social and economic conditions of the Niger Delta people. It regrettably noted that the impact of the huge investments has not been felt in the region.
"…Special statutory agencies – including the 1961 Niger Delta Development Board, the 1976 Niger Delta Basin Development Authority, the 1992 Oil Mineral Producing Areas Development Commission, and the 1999 Niger Delta Development Commission – were established to promote extra-budgetary investments in the region.
"Evidence on ground in the region, however, does not seem to justify the huge capital investments channeled through these agencies. If we are to embark on a credible and sustainable search for solutions, we must take a second look at these past efforts and see what worked, what did not work and why," the document noted.
This, our source added, was perceived as an official indictment of the NDDC. A befuddled Alaibe was said to have held a meeting with some of the governors in Port Harcourt over the document and its ‘offensive’ proposals while efforts are reportedly being made to frustrate the action plan using an ally in the Presidency.
The Kingibe, NSA connection
Sunday Sun gathered that at the State House meeting, Ambassador Kingibe reportedly wondered why the preparation of the action plan (also known as Project Give & Take 2008 – 2011: The Presidential Initiative on the Niger Delta Crises) was shrouded in secrecy.
Besides, the SGF was said to have observed that there was no budget for such a sensitive project that had the mandate of the President, and sought to know how it was funded.
He also reportedly argued that the action plan could not be regarded as an official document as there was nothing to show that the government made any input towards its preparation. According to our source, Kingibe’s position was that it could be accepted as the work of a consultant.
At the end of the meeting, the SGF made frantic effort to ensure the document did not leave the venue with the ministers in attendance, claiming it was too sensitive, the source further stated.
But, on his part, the NSA (Mukhtar) was said to have insisted that the technical team explain how it got the government documents, especially speeches by Yar’Adua, cited in the action plan.
The source said a livid Mukhtar threatened to arrest members of the team and charge them with treason.
The intervention of Jonathan was said to have saved the situation.