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Urhobo youth leaders condemn exclusion of Urhobo from proposed NDDC board

By Guardian Nigeria
08 December 2022   |   1:01 am
The Urhobo Youth Leaders Association (UYLA) has condemned the exclusion of qualified Urhobo sons and daughters

Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) building

The Urhobo Youth Leaders Association (UYLA) has condemned the exclusion of qualified Urhobo sons and daughters from the list of Board members of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) submitted by President Muhammadu Buhari, which was read on the floor of the Senate on November 23, 2022.

In a statement, UYLA’s Acting President, Olorogun (Amb) Samuel Onoriode Oghotomo, JP and Secretary, Olorogun Augustine Ogheneovo Atiti described the act as daylight robbery and slap on the Urhobo people, Urhobo nation being one of the largest oil and gas producing ethnic groups in the Niger Delta.

The group totally rejected the new list and warned of its consequences if the Senate failed to reject the screening and approving the list without an Urhobo on the board.

UYLA further reiterated its resolve to fight the injustice of the Federal Government on the Urhobo nation and called on the Deputy Senate President, Sen Ovie Omo-Agege and Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Olorogun Festus Keyamo (SAN) to immediately intervene and prevail on President Buhari to include an Urhobo on the NDDC Board.

The group recalled that President Muhamnadu Buhari had forwarded to the Senate for confirmation the appointment of a board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) via a letter dated 18th October, 2019 and sought the Senate’s confirmation for sixteen nominees as Board members including Chief Bernard Okumagba as Managing Director. The Senate’s standing committee carried out the screening exercise on 15 out of the 16 nominees in October 2019, upon which the Senate in Plenary confirmed their appointments on November 5, 2019.

However, after the nominees were screened and confirmed by the Nigerian Senate on the 5th of November 2019, President Buhari asked that the inauguration of the Board should be put on hold pending the completion of the forensic audit, for which an Interim Management Committee was appointed for the NDDC.

The board members nominated by President Muhammadu Buhari for the NDDC in October 2019 were also vetted by all relevant agencies of the federal government following which they were screened and confirmed by the Nigerian Senate on November 5, 2019.

It is against this background that a group, Niger Delta Transparency Group (NDTG) described President Muhammadu Buhari’s new list of nominees to be appointed to the Board of NDDC as “not just another unkind display of insensitivity and unfairness to Board nominees who were confirmed by the Senate since 2019, but was also an unnecessary display of government’s broken promise.”

Prominent Niger Deltans have also urged President Muhammadu Buhari to inaugurate the 2019 board appointed for the Commission and had been screened by the Senate. Chairman, NDDC contractors Association, Mr Joe Adia said the federal government should inaugurate the already screened and confirmed board, emphasizing that President Buhari should urgently put an end to what he termed the endless drama around the NDDC. According to him, “the present development around appointments of this new NDDC board gives us the picture that this Government is not co-ordinated. You made an earlier nomination, screened and confirmed them, put them on hold and appointed completely new persons.”

Also, the paramount ruler of oil and gas rich Idjerhe kingdom, Ethiope West Local Government Area, His Majesty, King Obukowho Monday Whiskey, said the new list from the President on nominees for the board of the Commission was a promotion of illegality, adding that the government should simply inaugurate the board screened since 2019 to end the seeming comedy Nigerians were being fed with.

According to the paramount leader, “the new NDDC board nominees sent to the Senate without regard to the 2019 Senate-confirmed board is nothing but promoting illegalities beyond human understanding. Firstly no cogent reasons were offered to Nigerians and Niger Deltans as to why that list was discarded. Secondly the huge financial mismanagement in the commission that run into billions of Naira from 2019 to date, Nigerians have not been told how and why such monumental fraud were allowed to take place in an interventionist agency. Nobody has been held accountable.

Thirdly it has never happened in the history of NDDC that people were duly nominated, screened and confirmed without inauguration and three years after discarded. This is like there is no regard for people’s sensibility. Fourthly, this government can still go back to the drawing board by inaugurating the Dr Pius Odubu and Olorogun Bernard Okumagba led board, not only to avoid the huge embarrassment but to assure Nigerians that the government still believes in the rule of law. Trying now to do otherwise will not only be counter-productive but will be setting bad records for people to follow.”