In anticipation of the constitution of the next NDDC Board, politicians scheme for the top job.
President Muhammadu Buhari will need a clear head to wade through the present cacophony of agitation to make the right decision in the appointment of the next board of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC board. The last board of the Commission was dissolved on January 25, 2019, 30 days after its tenure elapsed.
It was appointed in July 2016 with Victor Ndoma Egba, a former senator and senior advocate of Nigeria, as chairman and Nsima Ekere, the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC in Akwa Ibom State in the last gubernatorial election, as managing director and chief executive officer. Ekere resigned to fulfill the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, guideline that candidates must resign their appointment no later than 30 days to the election.
Other members of the board were Mene Derek, executive director, finance and administration; Adjogbe Samuel, executive director projects; Frank George, Akwa Ibom State; Prof. Nelson Brambaifa, Bayelsa State; Sylvester Nsa, Cross River State; Ogaga Ifowodo, Delta State; Uwuilekhue Saturday, Edo State; Harry Dabibi, Rivers State and Bernard Banfa, North Central. Others were: Mohammed Yahaya, North East; Mustapha Dankadi, North West; Abdul Kazeem Bayero, Ministry Of Environment; and Dr. Mahmoud Isa-Dutse, Federal Ministry of Finance.
Following the dissolution of the board, a three-man interim management was appointed by the President to run the affairs of the Commission pending the appointment of a substantive board. Brambaifa, member of the dissolved board was appointed the acting managing director; Chris Amadi from Rivers, acting executive director finance and administration; and Mr. Adjogbe Samuel, acting executive director projects.
Four months after, last week, kinsmen of Brambaifa from Bayelsa State, intensified public agitation to put pressure on Mr. President to confirm him the substantive managing director of the Commission, irrespective of the provisions of the NDDC Act. Protesters, claiming to be ‘Bayelsa elders and youths’ took to the streets of Yenagoa, the State capital, demanding that Brambaifa be immediately confirmed as substantive MD, or they would keep up the agitation until the President is compelled to do that. They caused a gridlock on the busy Mbiama-Yenagoa Road holding up motorists and commuters for hours.
They carried placards with various demands: ‘President Buhari, please confirm Prof. Nelson Brambaifa as the MD of the NDDC board’; ‘Let Prof. Brambaifa continue as MD of NDDC’; ‘Bayelsans are solidly behind you as MD of NDDC’; ‘The only person we want is Brambaifa as MD NDDC’; ‘NDDC board is secured with Prof. Brambaifa’.
Perekeme Kpodoh, a former security adviser to the State government and representative of Bayelsa elders, said Brambaifa is the way forward for NDDC: “Since its inception, we don’t have development and today, we have a son from Bayelsa, who is Prof. Nelson Brambaifa, and four months only, he has changed the tide.”
Similarly, Richard Giani, president of Attisa Youth Council, argued that their agitation for Brambaifa’s confirmation was based on his performance in office in the last four months. “My point here is very simple; for four months now that Brambaifa has been the acting MD of the NDDC, we can see the giant strides, roads are everywhere, even the waterways are calm and he is tackling security issues.”Besides Bayelsa State, Delta and Edo states are also scheming to produce the MD in the new board to be appointed.
Political godfathers are leaving no stones unturned lobbying to get their candidates so appointed. On June 12 when Nigerians were busy celebrating Democracy Day, a group that called themselves ‘stakeholders and activists’ assembled in Port Harcourt, headquarters of the Commission, and said it was the turn of Delta State to produce both the MD and chairman in the next NDDC board. Youkori Gibson, a chieftain of APC in Delta State and one of the conveners of the meeting, argued that the NDDC Act supports their demand. They accused the Bayelsa agitators of “primitive nepotism” for drumming up support for Brambifa and urged Buhari to follow the NDDC Act in the appointment of the next board for equity, fairness, justice, and peace in the oil-producing states.
Another state making a claim to the NDDC top job is Ondo, the fifth among the nine NDDC states by production level. Since 2016 Ondo has been insistent that it would produce the MD of the next board based on the NDDC Act. A group made up of the 213 oil producing communities in the State argues that the four states preceding them by production level had all produced MDs.
The state chapter of APC has thrown their weight behind the oil producing communities in this bid. Abayomi Adesanya, state Publicity Secretary, in February issued a statement that it was the turn of Ondo State to produce the MD. He noted that “the tenure of the board had expired in December after a four-year term. Any extension of the tenure of the board is unconstitutional and an attempt to give Cross River and Akwa-Ibom state undue advantage of serving for a continuous period of six years as chairman and managing director, respectively, to the detriment of other member states. For the fact that it is the turn of Ondo State, as the fifth highest oil-producing state in the country, to produce the next Managing Director of NDDC, President Muhammadu Buhari must compensate the people of Ondo State for their commitment to the Party (APC).”
So what does the NDDC Act say about appointments to positions in the board? There are nine oil producing states recognised in the act. These are in alphabetical order: Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Imo, Ondo, and Rivers. The Act stated that the office of the chairman shall rotate among the oil-producing states in alphabetical order. In this regard, Onyema Ugochukwu from Abia State was the first chairman.
Part 1V of the Act on the appointment of the managing director provides for “a managing director and two executive directors who shall be indigenes of oil-producing areas starting with the member states of the Commission with the highest production quantum of oil and shall rotate among member states in order of production.”
When the Act came into effect on July 12, 2000, Delta State was the highest oil producing state but due to shut-ins because of militancy and gains by Akwa Ibom State from their dispute with Cross River State the production table is as follows:
Production quantum by nine NDDC states
The first board which lasted from 2000 to 2004 had Onyema Ugochukwu from Abia State as chairman and Godwin Omene from Delta State as MD. Omene was removed in 2002 and was replaced by Emmanuel Aguariavwodo from same Delta from 2002 to 2004.
Timi Alaibe from Bayelsa State was the executive director finance and administration from 2002 to 2004 while Udoh Mbosoh from Akwa Ibom was the executive director projects from 2000 to 2002. He was replaced by Ukot Thomas Ukot from same state who complete the tenure from 2002 to 2004. The second board ran from 2004 to 2009. Sam Edem from Akwa Ibom was chairman and Emmanuel Aguariavwodo from same Delta, MD. Aguariavwodo was replaced by Alaibe as MD from 2005 to 2008.
Pastor Power Aginighan from Delta State served as EDFA from 2005 to 2008; while Beneiah Ojum from Rivers State was the EDP from 2005 to 2008. The third board was constituted in 2009 and lasted till 2011 only with Larry Koinyan of Bayelsa State, a retired air vice Marshal, as chairman and Chibuzo Ugwuoha of Rivers State as MD. Pastor Power Aginighan from Delta State was the EDFA and Esoetok Etteh from Akwa Ibom was EDP.
Another board was appointed to complete the four-year tenure of the third board from 2011 to 2013 as follows: Tariah Tebepah from Bayelsa as chairman and Christian Oboh, Rivers State as MD; Jambert Koboye from Delta EDFA; and Edikan Eshiet from Akwa Ibom as EDP.
The fourth board was appointed in 2013 with Bassey Ewa Henshaw from Cross River as chairman; Bassey Dan Abia from Akwa Ibom MD; Henry Ogiri from Rivers EDFA and Omotule Tuoyo from Delta as EDP.
This board was dissolved with the fall of PDP from power in 2015 and a new one was appointed 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. This board was dissolved by President Buhari at its expiration in January 2019.
From the history of the boards above since 2000, the following facts are clear: four states – Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, and Cross River have completed their terms as chairmen. Therefore, the next chairman should come from Delta State, which is number five in alphabetical order as stated in the Act.
Similarly, Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers and Akwa Ibom states have completed their terms as MDs in accordance with production volume. So the agitation by Bayelsa and Delta for the position of MD is not consistent with the NDDC Act. According to the Act, Ondo State is the fifth by production volume; therefore, it should be the turn of Ondo State to produce the next MD of the Commission.
If there is any doubt about this, the provision of Part 1V of NDDC Act should be further subjected to judicial interpretation to ensure justice and fair play for all the nine oil producing states.