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Ondo stakeholders laud Buhari on NDDC board recomposition

By Kelvin Ebiri, Port Harcourt, Sony Neme, Asaba, Michael Egbejule, Benin City and Oluwaseun Akingboye, Akure 
21 December 2019   |   3:33 am
Following President Muhammadu Buhari’s ordered that the Board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) should be recomposed, stakeholders in Ondo State have thrown their weight behind the decision.

•‘Buhari Playing Politics With Development Of N’Delta’

Following President Muhammadu Buhari’s ordered that the Board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) should be recomposed, stakeholders in Ondo State have thrown their weight behind the decision. 

This came as Ondo State Governor Rotimi Akeredolu attributed his prolonged absence from the state a few weeks ago as part of efforts to pressurise the federal government to rescind the appointments. Sequel to the confirmation of the Dr. Pius Odubu-led Board, stakeholders in the state had threatened that there would be no peace in the region unless their grievances were addressed. 

Akeredolu was one of the Niger Delta governors that kicked against the appointment of Odubu and Bernard Okumagba as Chairman and Managing Director of NDDC, respectively, declaring that it was an aberration on the Act establishing the commission. Akeredolu, in a statement issued by the Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Mr. Donald Ojogo, threw his weight behind the President’s decision on forensic audit and recomposition of the Board, saying: “The government welcomes the decision to sustain the IMC of the NDDC with mandate to supervise the forensic audit of the commission.

Ojogo attributed the stance of the state government on its advocacy earlier to produce the next managing director of the NDDC, in accordance to the law establishing the commission, explaining that the state government finds solace in Part IV Section 12(1) which states: “There shall be for the commission, 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 amongst member states in order of production.

“It is in line with the spirit and letters of the provisions of the Act establishing the NDDC that Delta, Rivers, Bayelsa and Akwa Ibom states have produced the MD in line with quantum of production.“Therefore, the government and people of Ondo State have a firm belief that Mr. President, in recomposing the Board and Management of the NDDC, would consider the clause in the Act and do the needful by appointing an indigene of Ondo State as the next MD of the NDDC.”

A former member of the Board from the oil producing area of the state, Dr. Lucky Aiyedatiwa, noted that the decision reaffirmed the exemplary attributes of the President as a man of unparalleled humility, saying it takes a man of great man of humility to acknowledge that something is wrong and make efforts to correct the situation. He assured that the recomposition, if properly done, would bring lasting peace to the region, noting: “Delta people are saying we don’t want MD, we want chairman because that is what belongs to us. Ondo State people are saying MD belongs to us. Some other people are agitating. It is only when we follow the Act we can put an end to all these.”

But some stakeholders in the Niger Delta have accused President Muhammadu Buhari of undermining the development of the region and playing unwarranted politics with the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).They also warned that the President’s insistence that the Interim Management Committee (IMC) would remain till the forensic audit of the commission was completed would be a setback for the anti-corruption fight.   

Executive Director of the Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ), David Ugolor, said the President’s assertion that the NDDC Board confirmed by the Senate would be recomposed smacks of disregard for the development of the region.He said: “As we speak, the common man in Niger Delta is dying and if the people begin to demand for their rights, people would label them as violent people. But who is more violent than the President? How do you demonstrate violence? You, on your own, sent the names to National Assembly, it was approved and you suddenly, within a few months, turn around. This is violence to the people of Niger Delta, a classic violence towards the region.”

Ugolor explained that the President’s action has once again resonated the inconsistence and crisis in the All Progressives Congress as a party, accusing the Presidency and the APC of taking advantage of the lack of clarity of leadership in the Niger Delta region.

He stated that also because of the competing ego with the APC leadership in the region, it had been difficult for the political class to speak with one voice to demand for an end to playing politics with development of the area, noting that it would amount to sheer waste of time and tax payers money if the President remains resolve that the IMC and the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs should oversee the forensic audit of the commission.

“Why will the President rely on political appointees to carry out a forensic audit when you have NEITI that is statutorily obligated to do things like this is not allowed to? You now allow Senator Godswill Akpabio, your appointee as a minister. This is a huge set back for us as a country and it is not good for the credibility of this government. We need to speak out, so that Buhari will know that this is not good for this country. At the end, we don’t expect anything to come out this. This is a great blow to the anti-corruption fight,” he added.

A former president of Ijaw National Congress (INC), Mr. Charles Harry, said the President’s decision to recompose the NDDC Board was in order, because the initial Board clear and confirmed by the Senate did not follow the extant law establishing the commission.Harry observed that there was nothing really wrong with the forensic audit to be completed first before the inauguration of the new Board, so that the wrongs in the NDDC are not compounded.

He, however, kicked against recruitment of 10 different firms to audit the commission, noting: “What should have rightly be done is take one major auditing firm, which will distribute whatever or sublet some other jobs to other auditing firms that are capable to work under their supervision,” he added.Deputy Convener, Edo Unity Platform, Dr. Simon Ibude Elaihor, described Buhari’s stance on a fresh NDDC Board as a welcome development and a nationalistic action.He said the disbandment of the Pius Odubu-led list and a fresh composition of NDDC Board, demonstrated that Buhari was capable of reading a mistake and correcting same in the overriding public interest.

Elaihor said: “As for us in Edo State, we believe that, like the days of Adams Oshiomhole’s administration, all federal appointments must bear the stamp of Governor Godwin Obaseki. Others earlier done without his stamp should be reviewed.

“Getting federal appointments in Edo State through the crude approaches of Oshiomhole is a back-door appropriation of our state’s glories and it must be condemned by all free born of Edo.”A former APC deputy governorship candidate in Delta State and Chairman of the Board of College of Education, Warri, Chief Vanderpuye Abanum, said: “That Board constitution was inappropriate in every manner and respect and I was not surprised at the turn of events. God never sleeps.” The retired director of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) added: “What happened to an Ndokwa man or woman then as the managing director or executive director or member? These APC so-called leaders continue to undermine Ndokwa people and misleading government. God is good.”