*Petitions against violation of NEDC Act 2017
By; SADIQ ABUBAKAR, Maiduguri
Arewa Youth under the aegis of Northern Youths Rights (NYR) have said that they have filed a petition against the presidency accusing it of violating the North East Development Commission Establishment (NEDC) Act 2017.
A statement issued and jointky signed by the Chairman and Secretary of the group respectively, Mr. Haruna Abdullahi Maikano and Raphael Terkua , stated that they have petitioned not only the offices of the President and Vice President, but also the Senate President and all the 109 senators of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Others include the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SFG), Office of the Chief of Staff (COS) to the President, all the six State Governors of the Northeast region, and Office of the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development.
The statement said the petition called for transparency and accountability prayers while emphasizing the need for transparency and accountability in the selection process of NEDC board members, asserting that, any deviation from the established guidelines undermines the commission’s purpose and hampers efforts to address the pressing developmental needs of the North-East region.
It would be recalled that the North-East Development Commission (NEDC) was established in 2017 with the primary objective of addressing the humanitarian and developmental challenges faced by the North-East region of Nigeria, which has been significantly affected by insurgency and other forms of insecurity.
The Act governing the establishment of the NEDC outlines specific guidelines and procedures for the constitution of its governing board.
However, according to the Northern Youths Right’s petition, President Tinubu in his letter to the Senate on the 19th July, 2023, failed to adhere to the provisions of the NEDC Establishment Act 2017 in the reconstitution and/or appointment of members to the commission’s governing board for the year 2023.
The petitioners alleged that the Section of the Act of the NEDC the President relied on the appointment of new members of the board does not even exist in the Act establishing the commission thus, raising concerns about transparency, fairness, and regional representation in the board.
Part of the letter read thus, “With great concern and disappointment we humbly note that Section 5, Sub Section (B)” mentioned by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu in this said communication, and also read by you, does not exist in the NEDC Establishment Act 2017. It is appalling that this mighty glitch would occur in the highest echelon of the leadership of our land.
“The reappointment of General Paul Tarfa (rtd) to the position of the Chairman of the board of the Commission is inconsistent with Section 5 and Second Schedule of the Act establishing the NEDC.
“Therefore, this “reappointment stands wasted and of no effect whatsoever”.
The petitioners solicited for the following prayers:
1. That the distinguished Senate do declare that the letter of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu herein mentioned, contained vague information and as well misrepresentation of facts of the law and regulation of the NEDC Establishment Act 2017.
2. That the distinguished Senate do declare that any action already taken from the contents of the letter are inconsistent with relevant laws.
3. That the distinguished senate cease any action, or any further action, regarding the contents of Mr. President letter in mention.
4. That, in order not to create and administrative vaccum and also in other to avoid letter legal battles and issues connected with the governing and management of the NEDC, the distinguished Senate to declare that the NEDC remains at its status quo, before the coming of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s letter which has been shown here to have no effect, whatsoever.
The statement also said the allegations raised by Arewa Youths are of significant concern, given the critical role of the North-East Development Commission in the region’s recovery and development. A thorough investigation into the alleged violations of the NEDC Establishment Act 2017 is essential to ensure fairness and the realization of the commission’s objectives.
It claimed that the situation calls for the utmost transparency and adherence to the rule of law in all governmental appointments to key positions. Any irregularities in the appointment process must be rectified to preserve public trust and confidence in the commission’s ability to effectively serve the needs of the North-East region.
The statement suggested that, as the matter unfolds, Nigerians, particularly stakeholders in the North-East region, will be keenly watching for a timely and just resolution to ensure the commission can fulfill its mandate and contribute to the region’s progress.
However, it will be recalled that former President, Muhammadu Buhari had appointed an acting governing board for the commission at the wee hours of his administration but the appointments were dissolved shortly after Mr. Tinubu took over as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.