The nominations of members of the fifth Niger Delta Development Commission board by the Presidency on August 27 is brewing crisis in the oil-bearing belt.
A disregard for the provisions of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Act in the recent appointment of members of the new board by the Presidency is raising dust in the turbulent oil belt. On August 27, the office of the Secretary to the government of the federation, SGF, announced a 16-member board that did not conform to the law that ensured peaceful transitions in the board since its establishment in 2000.
|1||Dr. Pius Odubu||Chairman||Edo|
|2||Bernard O. Okumagba||Managing Director||Delta|
|3||Engr. Otobong Ndem||Executive Director Projects||Akwa Ibom|
|4||Maxwell Okoh||Executive Director Finance & Admin||Bayelsa|
|5||Prophet Jones Erue||Delta Representative||Delta|
|6||Chief Victor Ekahtar||Edo Representative||Edo|
|7||Dr. Joy Yimebe Nunieh||Rivers Representative||Rivers|
|8||Nwogu Nwogu||Abia Representative||Abia|
|9||Theodore A. Allison||Bayelsa Representative||Bayelsa|
|10||Victor Antai||Akwa Ibom Representative||Akwa Ibom |
|11||Maurice Effiwatt||Cross River Representative||Cross River|
|12||Olugbenga Elema||Ondo Representative||Ondo|
|13||Uchegbu Chidiebere Kyrian||Imo Representative||Imo|
|14||Aisha Murtala Muhammed||Northwest Rep Representative||Kano|
|15||Ardo Zubairu||Northeast Rep Representative||Adamawa|
|16||Engr. Badmus Mutalib||Southwest Rep Representative||Lagos |
- Members of thecontroversial new NDDC Board. *Tableby TELL
As exclusively reported by TELL prior tothe announcement politicians were scheming to lobby their preferred candidatesinto the board, especially the four top positions of chairman, Managing director,EDP and EDFA, in disregard to the provisions of the Act establishing theCommission. True to our report the chairman of the board was wrongfully assignedto Edo State, instead of Delta and MD to Delta instead of Ondo.
According to the NDDC Act, all the nine oil-producing states of Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Imo, Ondo and Rivers are to produce the two topmost positions of chairman and managing director in stipulated order. While the office of the chairman shall rotate among the oil-producing states in alphabetical order, the office of the managing director shall rotate among the nine states according to their oil production volume.
Part 1V of the Actprovides for “a managing director andtwo executive directors who shall be indigenes of oil-producing areas startingwith the member-states of the Commission with the highest production quantum ofoil and shall rotate among member states in order of production.”
The Act came into effect on July 12, 2000, and Abia State, the first in alphabetical order produced the first chairman in Onyema Ugochukwu. Similarly, according to the production volume then, Delta State was the number one and produced the first managing director in Godwin Omene.
Presently, the oilproduction quantum according to the nine states are as follows:
| S/N || State || Production Quantum |
| 1 || Akwa Ibom || 31.4% |
| 2 || Delta || 21.56% |
| 3 || Rivers || 21.4% |
| 4 || Bayelsa || 18.07% |
| 5 || Ondo || 3. 74% |
| 6 || Edo State || 2.06% |
| 7 || Imo || 1.06% |
| 8 || Abia || 0.68% |
| 9 || Cross River || —|
* Production quantum by nine NDDC states. *TELL
When Omene was removed in 2002, he was replaced by Emmanuel Aguariavwodo also from the same Delta as MD. Timi Alaibe from Bayelsa State was the executive director, finance and administration while Udoh Mbosoh from Akwa Ibom was the executive director, projects. When Mbosoh was removed in 2002, he was replaced by Ukot Thomas Ukot also from Akwa Ibom State who completed the tenure of the first board
In the second board, Sam Edem from Akwa Ibom was chairman and Timi Alaibe from Bayelsa as MD. Pastor Power Aginighan from Delta State was EDFA, while Beneiah Ojum from Rivers State was the EDP. According to the law, when a person is removed, another from the same state is appointed to complete its tenure on the board.
In the third board,Larry Koinyan of Bayelsa State, a retired Air Vice Marshal, was chairman andChibuzo Ugwuoha of Rivers State was MD. Pastor Power Aginighan from Delta Statewas the EDFA and Esoetok Etteh from Akwa Ibom was EDP.
The third board wasdissolved and new members were appointed from the same states to complete theirtenure as follows: Tariah Tebepah from Bayelsa as chairman; Christian Oboh,Rivers State as MD; Jambert Koboye from Delta, EDFA; and Edikan Eshiet fromAkwa Ibom as EDP.
The fourth boardfollowed the same pattern. Bassey Ewa Henshaw from Cross River waschairman; Bassey Dan Abia from Akwa Ibom MD; Henry Ogiri from Rivers EDFA andOmotule Tuoyo from Delta as EDP.
The fourth board was dissolved in 2015 and new members were appointed from the same states to complete their tenure as follows: Victor Ndoma Egba from Cross River, chairman; Nsima Ekere, Akwa Ibom, MD; Meme Derek, Rivers, EDFA; and Adjogbe Ajenakuwe, Delta, EDP. Their tenure expired and President Muhammadu Buhari dissolved the board in January 2019.
| 1 || Abia || Onyema Ugochukwu ||Chairman || 2000 – 2004 |
| 2 || Delta || Engr Godwin Omene || MD || 2000 – 2002 |
| 3 || Delta ||Emmanuel Aguariavwodo || MD || 2000 – 2004 |
| 4 || Bayelsa || Timi Alaibe || EDFA || 2002 – 2004 |
| 5 || Akwa Ibom || Engr Udoh Mbosoh || EDP || 2000 – 2004 |
| 6 || Akwa Ibom || Engr. Ukot Thomas Uko || EDP || 3002 -2004 |
*First Board pf NDDC from 2000 – 2004
| 1 ||Akwa Ibom || Sam Edem || Chairman || 2004 – 2008 |
| 2 || Delta || Emmanuel Aguariavwodo || MD || 2002 – 2005 |
| 3 || Bayelsa || Timi Alaibe || MD || 2005 – 2008 |
| 4 || Delta || Pastor Power Aginighan || EDFA || 2005 – 2008 |
| 5 || Rivers || Engr Beneiah Ojum || EDP || 2004 – 2008 |
*Second NDDC Board from 2005 – 2008.
| 1 || Bayelsa || Larry Koinyan || Chairman || 2009 – 2011 |
| 2 || Rivers || Chibuzor Ugwuoha || MD || 2009 – 2011 |
| 3 || Delta || Pastor Power Aginighan || EDFA || 2009 – 2011 |
| 4 || Akwa Ibom || Arc Esoetok Etteh || EDP || 2009 – 2011 |
*Third NDDC Board from 2009 – 2011
| 1 || Bayelsa || Tariah Tebepah || Chairman || 2011 – 2013 |
| 2 || Rivers || Dr Christian Oboh || MD || 2011 – 2013 |
| 3 || Delta || Engr Lambert Koboye || EDFA || 2011 – 2013 |
| 4 || Akwa Ibom || Engr Edikan Eshiet || EDP || 2011 – 2013 |
*Continuation of Fourth Board from2011 – 2013
| 1 || Cross River || Bassey Ewa Henshaw || Chairman || 2013 – 2015 |
| 2 || Akwa Ibom || Bassey Dan Abia || MD || 2013 – 2015 |
| 3 || Rivers || Henry Ogiri || EDFA || 2013 – 2015 |
| 4 || Delta || Engr OmotsuleTuofo || EDP || 2013 – 2015 |
*Fourth Board from 2013 – 2015
| 1 || Cross River || Ndoma Egba, SAN || Chairman || 2016 – 2019 |
| 2 || Akwa Ibom || Nsima Ekere || MD || 2016 – 2019 |
| 3 || Rivers || Meme Derek || EDFA || 2016 – 2019 |
| 4 || Delta ||Engr Adjogbe Ajenakwe || EDP || 2016 – 2019 |
*Continuation of fourth board. *Tables by TELL showing the list of NDDCMDs since 2000 to 2019
Other anomalies in the composition of the board include the appointment of a representative for the Southwest. Part 1(c) of the NDDC Act provides for “three persons to represent non-oil producing states provided that such membership should be drawn from the remaining geopolitical zones which are not represented in the Commission.”
In this regard, Ondo State is from the Southwest and Lagos State is from Southwest; therefore, traditionally, southwest did not produce representatives in all the four previous boards of the Commission. The three zones that produce representatives are Northeast, Northwest and Northcentral. But in this board, the position of Northwest was given to Southwest/Lagos State. Three other members will represent oil producing companies in the Niger Delta, Federal Ministry of Finance and Federal Ministry of Environment, making a 19-member board.
The implication of the composition of the new board,which will come before the National Assembly for screening, is either that thehawks in the presidency who yielded to lobbyists did bother to read the NDDCAct or it was a deliberate act of impunity. A politician interviewed in thecourse of this story who wishes to remain anonymous told the Magazine, “It’sall politics; forget the law.” And it turned out as he predicted it will.
Expectedly, governors of the NDDC states immediatelyrejected the appointments as it did not have their input and did not conform tothe Act. At an emergency meeting in Abuja, they resolved to seek audience withPresident Muhammadu Buhari to complain and request for a reversal. At the meeting were: Oluwarotimi Akeredolu,Ondo; Godwin Obaseki, Edo; Emmanuel Udom, Akwa Ibom; Seriake Dickson, Bayelsa;Emeka Ihedioha, Imo; and Okezie Ikpeazu,Abia. The three others sentrepresentatives.
Dickson briefed the Press after meeting. “We are all unanimously of the view that we are concerned about the governance process of that very critical development agency. We are aware of the general dissatisfaction of the various states in the regions. We are also concerned about the way and manner the recent appointments have been made. Arising from all this, firstly we want to use this opportunity to call for calm in all our states following the recent announcement that we made. And accordingly, we have decided that as soon as it is convenient for Mr. President, we intend to have an audience with him because we are critical stakeholders and the NDDC is a very critical developmental agency that is structured to partner, collaborate with the state governors who are critical partners. And as soon as his convenience permits to discuss in greater details, our views on some of this critical issues affecting the NDDC so that it will be repositioned for greater efficiency and then you have an effective governance mechanism, to carry on with their business. That is what we have met and agreed on.”
The governors called for peace in their states asthe issues were being resolved.
Be that as it may, Abuja is inundated with protestsand counter protests on the appointments. From Edo State the youth are up inprotest against the nominees from their state. Youths in Ovia Northeast LocalGovernment have alleged marginalization in the board of the Commission. Likewise,the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Ovia Northeast has rejected thenomination of Pius Odubu and Chief Victor Ekhator as board members of thecommission. In an open letter toPresident Buhari, the APC in the area said that whereas Orhionmwon andIkpoba-Okha councils have been duly represented, Ovia Northeast has remained marginalized.
According to them, “With a careful analysis andassessment of all the issues…and if your opinion and position is not in doubtbut in the affirmative, Ovia Northeast should be given the opportunity to serveon the board of NDDC. Orhionmwon representatives have served in NDDC for 18years, while several representatives from Ikpoba-Okha have served for eightyears. “We pray Your Excellency to consider the principle of rotation andzoning as provided by the NDDC Act Section 2 (1) and reserve the NDDC chairmanand commissioner positions to Ovia Northeast who have been denied anyrepresentation in the past 26 years.
The youths ofOvia Northeast also alleged that Ekhator was imposed as Edo NDDC representativeby APC’s national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole. “We demand equal representationin the NDDC. This is marginalization of the highest order. We want relevantauthorities to ensure that Ovia North East is not cheated.”
In Abuja, the APC is asking the governors to mind their business. In a statement by its National Vice Chairman, South-South, Ntufam Hilliard Eta, described the conduct of the governors as ‘very shameful and disgraceful.’..
“Ordinarily, we would have ignored such disgracefulsteps by men we thought could have known better, but it has become imperativethat we stand in the defense of justice and for the benefit of Nigerians. It issad that these Governors of the Oil rich states of the Niger Delta who shouldbe highly concerned by the level of poverty and deteriorating state ofinfrastructure in the zone, are rather being parochial, selfish and exhibitingthe highest form of ignorance in governance.
“They are only interested in ensuring that theirfamily members, cronies and stooges are appointed to strategic positions, tothe detriment of the generality of Nigerians. The steps by these self-servingGovernors just goes to show that indeed their election into such high officeswere just a direct product of the subversion of the collective wills of thepeople in the last general elections. We view these steps taken by theseGovernors as very dishonorable and it shows that governance in our zone is atthe lowest ebb…For us, we view this as crass irresponsibility, shameful displayof ignorance, and opposition politics carried too far.”
Good Governance and Fight against Corruption,another Niger Delta group protested the ‘anomaly’ last Tuesday in Abuja,bandying placards with various screaming inscriptions: “President Buhari save us from corruptleaders”; “NDDC is for the development of Niger Delta and not for politicalgains.”
Afred Etuk,leader of the group said, “Our people, especially the youths, are not happywith the process that led to the nomination and selection of the new boardmembers of the Commission.” He urged the President to reverse the appointmentsto avert brewing crisis in the Niger Delta.
This is the first time nominations to the NDDC boardwill generate such uproar. And it is justified. A President who swore at theEagle Square to operate the Constitution of Nigeria must needs rule by the law.If he has issues with the NDDC Act he can suggest amendments to the Nationalassembly but until that is done, Mr President and his aides must obey the NDDCAct.
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