On NDDC, Fuel subsidy and National Honours

I hope that the sacking of NDDC’s previous board does not mark the end of investigations on alleged corruption charges levelled against some of its members. Beyond this, I wonder whether anyone has found the current federal government institutional framework for Niger Delta development comprising: NDDC, Amnesty office and the ministry of Niger Delta Affairs as needing a review, expensive and difficult to justify. Do we really need all three of them? How much does it cost to manage the bureaucracy and administration of these different bodies? How accountable are they to the people of the Niger Delta? NDDC has the regional master plan to guide its work, what guides the Ministry, when does the functions of the Amnesty office come to an end? How do these agencies cooperate with each other and with states? I hope the new board of the NDDC will get to work immediately and implement programmes that will improve the quality of the life of ordinary people in the region. I suppose that’s why it was set up in the first place.

On the fuel subsidy mêlée, I think the federal government should fix the refineries, build new ones and develop local refining capability. Only after this has been accomplished should any discussion about removing subsidies be brought to the table. By that time, we should be talking about other facets of the nation’s development where we could channel the ‘new savings’ from the no-more-necessary ‘subsidy fund’ just like we did with the so-called ‘debt relief savings.’ For now, leave it as it is and tackle the corruption within the disbursing agency, that’s where the problem is, not in the subsidy itself.

The 2011 National Honours appears to have brought to the fore (again) some of the challenges we face as a country. First was the poor processes of nomination and communication to nominees (which, it is reported, led to at least one prominent nominee rejecting the award). Second was the inadequacy of medals and certificates at the honours event. You would think that at that level things would be  better organised given the enormous resources committed but apparently not. Did the committee not know the exact number of people receiving the honours? Whose responsibility was it to make sure the materials were ready ahead of the award ceremony? I will be interested to know what happened to those responsible, and if the person (s) who brought such a height of national embarrassment on us were reprimanded. In other contexts, those responsible would have resigned by now and apologised to the nation. But here, if they even bother, a terse statement will be issued et la vie continue.

But more substantively, what are the criteria for receiving these honours? Who nominates the awardees? Is there an open process through which citizens can put forward candidates? Or are the awards simply the exclusive reserve of public servants and their associates?