The attention of *NIGER DELTA COALITION FOR RULE OF LAW AND GOOD GOVERNANCE (NDCRLGG)* has been drawn to the antics of the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Umana Okon Umana and the Permanent Secretary, Engr. Adebiyi Olufunso to annex the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs contrary to the provisions of extant law establishibg the NDDC as a separate agency of government.
NDCRLGG wish to categorically affirm that the evil plot is inimical to the mandate of NDDC and the desire of the people of Niger Delta. The plot is counter-productive to the goals of NDDC as interventionist agency and will therefore be resisted.
The NDDC as an agency established by a valid and subsisting Law (NDDC Act 2000) clearly makes it an independent agency under the Presidency – a corporate body l vested with perpetual succession and a common seal (Section 1(1)-(3), NDDC Act).
The President had via a letter dated 2nd September 2019, delegated the power of supervision of the NDDC to the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs. The only delegation of its kind in the entire nation. This was in response to an earlier request made by the Minister titled ‘Request for the Supervision of the Niger Delta Development Commission to be transferred to the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs’.
It is imperative to reiterate that the request for the supervision of the NDDC oversight function over the activities of the Interim Administrator/Managing Director and nothing more. The mandate of supervision which is on interim basis does not by any stretch of imagination extend to the conduct of managerial or administrative functions. Thiis elementary, to say the least, and shouldn’t be misconstrued.
NDCRLGG is aware that the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Mr Umana Okon Umana is attempting to subsume NDDC under the Ministry of Niger. We undertake the platform of NDCRLGG says categorically that attempt to hijack the constitutionally mandate of NDDC will not work. Such motive is counterproductive to the aspirations of people of Niger Delta, unlawful and ultra vires his power of supervision.
NDCRLGG categorically essets that those Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs is separate and distinct from the NDDC. Both are two streams that do not mix or cross paths. While the NDDC is enacted by a valid and subsisting Law, the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, just like every other ministry in the country has it’s clear cut mandate, budget and civil service structure. We can therefore not imagine an NDDC Director taking instructions from a Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Niger Delta Aafairs. It is a misnomer that can not stand the test of logic and law.
The courts have clearly given this distinction in NNPC & ANOR v TRINITY MILLS INSURANCE BROKERS & ORS (2002) LPELR-7142 CA noting that “a minister is the political head of a MINISTRY in the executive arm of government while the permanent secretary is the administrative head of the MINISTRY.” The administrative powers of the Permanent Secretary cannot therefore overlap to a separate agency created by law; such as the NDDC.
In respect of the supervisory powers vested in the Minister, it is also a settled principle of law that a derived power or authority so given cannot be greater than that available at its source. This is enshrined in the Latin maxim ‘Derivativa Protestas Non Potest Esse Major Primitiva’.
Therefore, the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Mr Umana Okon Umana cannot therefore exceed the supervisory powers given to him by President Muhammadu Buhari.
From erroneously referring to the NDDC ‘as it’s agency’ and administratively overseeing the Management Retreat of the NDDC last month July 2022, the Minister through the Permanent Secretary, Engr Adebiyi Olufunso, has further directed a Personnel Audit of staff of the NDDC in a bid to achieve the unlawful plot of running both institutions as a single unit. This clearly is beyond the supervisory powers of the Minister and as such ultra vires.
Such administrative powers/functions only lies with the Management of the NDDC as a distinct and separate agency (through the MD) or the Head of Service of the Federal Civil Service Commission as the controlling body of the Civil Service nationwide. The supervisory powers of the Minister does not come close. In fact, it falls short of such authority even in wonderland.
NDCRLGG therefore call on all staff of the NDDC to wear and reject the Personnel Audit or any administrative procedure ordered by the Minister or his Permanent Secretary. The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs and the Permanent Sevretary do not have the power to do so or even call for same. The role of the Minister is supersory and nothing more.
The staff of the NDDC must be informed that any move to submit themselves to the Personnel Audit ordered by the Minister would be disastrous to the status of their employment. In the eyes of the law they can no longer be heard to complain of whatever outcome such an illegal procedure would come up with. This is encapsulated in the latin maxim ‘Volenti Non Fit Injuria’ meaning ‘the consent of a person is a defense against any wrong’.
NDCRLGG also call on the Minister to desist from this lawlessness, impunity and abuse of power. We have taken out time to explain the position of the law and any further attempt in this direction will spell stiff resistance from us and the Niger Delta region at large.
We also make bold to call on Mr President to put an end to this macabre dance in NDDC. Mr. President should urgently return the NDDC back to the office of the Secretary General of the Federation and constitute the statutory board to oversee the affairs of the NDDC which is interventionist agency.
A stitch in time, saves nine!
Forward Niger Delta!!
Victory for Rule of Law and Good Governance!!!
Cletus N. Ogbodo
Coalition of Niger Delta for Rule of Law and Good Governance (NDCRLGG)