Women leaders of ethnic nationalities in the Niger Delta have called on President Bola Tinubu to publish the report of the forensic audit of the Niger Delta Development Commission.
Ms Ann-Kio Briggs, leader of the delegation made the call during an interactive meeting with the Managing Director of NDDC, Dr Samuel Ogbuku, in Port Harcourt on Monday.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the women leaders were drawn from various ethnic organisations, civil society groups, community and faith-based organisations, market women and non-governmental organisations.
The forensic audit of the NDDC was set up by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2021 to investigate the activities of the interventionist agency from inception to August 2019.
But several months after the exercise was concluded, the government has maintained a sealed lip as to when the forensic report will be made available to Nigerians.
Briggs said the delayed publication of the report of a forensic audit of NDDC was unacceptable especially as billions were spent to carry out the audit.
She said, “The women of the Niger Delta are not happy that the forensic audit report of the NDDC has not been published.
“We wish to remind President Bola Tinubu that the report of the forensic audit under the previous government is unacceptably unavailable to the public.
“Also, we can no longer ignore the fact that NDDC is owed huge monies running into billions and trillions of naira,” she said.
Briggs said the continued delay in the release of the money had limited the ability of the commission to function optimally.
She said that women of the region have been painfully neglected despite standing with the men in the struggle for justice, equity, accountability, and development of the region.
“Suffice to add that the Niger Delta women have not had their rights in appointments, development, political and economic recognitions in all areas of government and regional building.
“The women have been neglected in the development of the region to commiserate with the efforts we have put in over the years.
“We, therefore, expect you (Ogbuku) to make the concerns of the women one of your priorities by ensuring that this engagement with us will yield better results,” she added.
The human rights activist commended the managing director for seeking partnerships with International Oil Companies, developmental partners, and other government agencies to address challenges confronting the region.
Speaking, Ogbuku said the commission had concluded plans to initiate projects and programmes that would develop the capacity of women and youths of the region.
According to him, the commission was currently working on holding a Niger Delta Stakeholders Summit to address many of the challenges faced by the various groups, including women’s bodies.
“We want to give all our leaders, political, traditional, youths, women, and other leaders the platform and opportunity to discuss what our future should be.
“The women form the core of our development programmes. We have met and spoken with the youths, and now, it is the turn of our mothers.
“Women are critical stakeholders as part of the commission’s programme to engage with all stakeholders in the formulation of NDDC’s overall strategies for the region’s development,” he said.
Ogbuku said the summit would give women the opportunity to discuss their expectations for the future as well as provide other stakeholders the chance to contribute ideas for the region’s development.
“Similarly, stakeholders will use the opportunity to leverage on the 2023 budget – which, once signed, we should be able to agree on the areas of priorities on our current realities,” he added.