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NDDC Board: Rita Lori-Ogbebor’s provocative ethnic statements are uncalled for

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With the submission of the forensic audit report, the inauguration of the Board of the Niger Delta Development Commission should not be delayed any further, certainly not by the meddlesomeness of fringe ethnic champions who are working to delay the progress of our region.

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We state this fully aware that there are people who have been recruited by persons keen to continue the current aberration of the sole administrator by orchestrating a crisis through campaigns for persons of their ethnic extraction to be appointed into the board. Specifically, the recent claim by Rita Lori-Ogbebor that only someone from her Itsekiri tribe is eligible for appointment into the Board as a representative of Delta State is provocative, anarchical and insulting to other ethnic groups.

What will become of our ethnic harmony if every ethnic group begins to make such provocative statements. This is clearly a recipe for chaos and schisms.

There is already a board nominated by President Muhammadu Buhari in October 2019, confirmed by Nigerian Senate on November 5, 2019 and awaiting inauguration.

Niger Deltans have, over the past two years, endured the abuse of the NDDC Act by the appointment of interim management committees and a sole administrator who are not fully representative of the constituent states, and have carried on without regard for due process.

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Aware of the protests and dissatisfaction of Niger Deltans with that arrangement, President Buhari had promised by himself that the Board will be inaugurated once the forensic audit report is submitted. That has been done and we call on Mr President to keep his promise, which is the expectation of Niger Deltans.

We reject calls by ethnic champions who have built a reputation for perpetuating conflict among the tribes of the Niger Delta. It is important to note that the subsisting NDDC Act does not recognize ethnicity as a basis for appointing its board. To project ethnicity is a call to disharmony and anarchy. The makers of the NDDC Act in their wisdom clearly avoided this path which can only lead to conflicts and hate in the States of the Niger Delta Region.

The NDDC Act is the law that governs appointments into the NDDC Board. The NDDC Act in Part 1, Section 2(1) B requires a member of the NDDC Governing Board to come from an “Oil Producing Area”. An area is a definite geographical space bound by its recognition in the constitution as an administrative space. Thus, an area can be a state, a local government area or a senatorial district. In the context of the NDDC act, an oil producing area is coterminous with an oil producing local government area. All indigenes of Oil Producing Local Government Areas in the Niger Delta States are eligible. Nobody can be excluded on the basis of tribe as long as he or she is from an oil producing local government area.

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We therefore call on Mr President, who in his wisdom and in exercise of his authority made the appointments and directed that they be on standby pending the submission of the forensic audit report, to direct the inauguration of the Senate-confirmed Board without further delay. This will enable all Niger Deltans to direct our energies to the great work of developing our region through the NDDC.

This content is promoted by the Niger Delta United Congress.

Ebizomor Brisibe is the president of Niger Delta United Congress and Edem Archibong the secretary.

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In this article:
NDDCRita Lori-Ogbebor
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