The imbalance in NDDC as it affects Imo and Ondo States
Since 2000 every President in Nigeria has been unfair to Ondo and Imo states in terms of appointments of chairman/Managing Director/Executive Director in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
It does not matter the quantum of oil produced in those two states as long as they are still members of the NNDC, the rotation formula as contained in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) act should be applied. Why do I say so?
On August 27, 1991, General Ibrahim Babangida, GCFR, created Delta state along with other states. He then named Asaba as the state capital, a decision that is still regarded as crucial even till today. A few months later on June 25, 1992, General Babangida established the Oil Mineral Producing Areas Development Commission (OMPADEC). On July 9, 1992, General Babangida signed into law, the OMPADEC Decree. The states covered by OMPADEC were Rivers, Delta, Akwa Ibom, Imo, Edo, Ondo and Abia states. Port-Harcourt was named as the headquarters of OMPADEC in the decree. The decree states among others that the Chairman and all other members of the Commission shall be appointed by the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces; the Chairman and all members of the Commission shall be full-time members; the Chairman shall be the chief executive of the Commission and the supplementary provisions contained in the Schedule to this Decree shall have effect with respect to the proceedings of the Commission and the other matters contained therein.
In establishing OMPADEC, General Babangida took a cue from Section 159 of the 1963 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. General Babangida should be commended for establishing OMPADEC. From 1966 till 1992 nothing was done by the Central Government to cater for the plight of the people from that region.
Section 159 of the 1963 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria states that ——-(1) There shall be a board for the Niger Delta which shall be styled the Niger Delta Development Board. (2) The members of the Board shall be—- (a) a person appointed by the President, who shall be chairman (b) a person appointed by the Governor of Eastern Nigeria; (c) a person appointed by the Governor of Mid-Western Nigeria; and such other persons may be appointed in such manner as may be prescribed by Parliament to represent the inhabitants of the Niger Delta. (3) A member of the board shall vacate his office in such circumstances as may be prescribed by Parliament (4) The Board shall be responsible for advising the Government of the Federation and the Governments of Eastern Nigeria and Mid-Western Nigeria with respect to the physical development of the Niger Delta, and in order to discharge that responsibility the Board shall—- (a) cause the Niger Delta to be surveyed in order to ascertain what measures are required to promote its physical development; (b) prepare schemes designed to promote the physical development of the Niger Delta , together with estimates of the costs of putting the schemes into effect; (c) submit to the Government of the Federation and the Governments of Eastern Nigeria and Mid-Western annual reports describing the work of the Board and the measures taken in pursuance of its advice; (5) Parliament may make such provision as it considers expedient for enabling the Board to discharge its functions under this section; (6) In this section, “the Niger Delta” means the area specified in the Proclamation relating to the Board which was made on the twenty-sixth day of August, 1959; (7) this section shall cease to have effect on the first day of July, 1969, or such later date as may be prescribed by Parliament.
The objectives of the Niger Delta Development Board are the same as that of OMPADEC which are to (a) to receive and administer the monthly sums from the allocation of the Federation Account in accordance with confirmed ratio of oil production in each State— (i) for the rehabilitation and development of oil mineral producing areas, (ii) for tackling ecological problems that have arisen from the exploration of oil minerals; (b) to determine and identify, through the Commission and the respective oil mineral producing States, the actual oil mineral producing areas and embark on the development of projects properly agreed upon with the local communities of the oil mineral producing areas; (c) to consult with the relevant Federal and State Government authorities on the control and effective methods of tackling the problem of oil pollution and spillages; (c) to consult with the relevant Federal and State Government authorities on the control and effective methods of tackling the problem of oil pollution and spillages;(d) to liaise with the various oil companies on matters of pollution control (e) to obtain from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation the proper formula for actual oil mineral production of each State, Local Government Area and community and to ensure the fair and equitable distribution of projects, services and employment of personnel in accordance with recognised percentage production; (f) to consult to the Federal Government through the President, the State, Local Governments and oil mineral producing communities regarding projects, services and all other requirements relating to the special fund; (g) to render annual returns to the President, Commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces and copy the State and Local Governments on all matters relating to the special fund; (h) to advise the Federal, State and Local Governments on all matters relating to the special fund; (i) to liaise with the oil producing companies regarding the proper number, location and other relevant data regarding oil mineral producing areas; and (j) to execute other works and perform such other functions which in the opinion of the Commission is geared towards the development of the oil mineral producing areas.
General Babangida appointed Mr. Albert Korubo Horsfall from Buguma in Rivers state as the Chairman of OMPADEC. Mr. Horsfall was the former founding Director of the Nigeria Intelligence Agency and director General of the State Security Service. He also appointed six commissioners to work with Chief Horsfall among whom is my friend, Dr Juniad S. Mohammed. Between 1979 and 1983, Dr. Mohammed represented Kano West ward in the House of Representative. During the tenure of Chief Horsfall, OMPADEC received 11.48 billion naira approximately $133,488,372 from government through monthly disbursements from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
During the tenure of Chief Horsfall, all the six states were allowed to appoint directors in the commission. Mr Ajose Ikudehinbo represented Ondo state and he was made Director of Research and Planning. Dr. Goodluck Jonathan during that time served as Assistant Director in the Fisheries section under Mr. M.C. Kanu who was then Director of Environment. Other directors were Mr. Princewill Iwueze, Mr. Essien, director in charge of finance, Mr. A.I. Nnamani, director in charge of General Administration.
General Sani Abacha, GCFR, came to power on November 17, 1993. On October 1, 1996, he created Bayelsa state out of Rivers state there by increasing the membership of OMPADEC from six to seven. On February 22, 1996, General Abacha dissolved the board of OMPADEC and its Commissioners were removed based on claims of non-performance. The government claimed that the contractors performed below expectations. General Sani Abacha then appointed Professor Eric Agume Opia as the Sole Administrator of OMPADEC. Professor Opia is from Kwale, which is the headquarters of Ndokwa West Local Government Area of Delta State. Kwale has produced eminent citizens including Rear Admiral Mike Onah, Senator Patrick Osakwe, Brigadier Godwin Alabi Isama (although his mum is from Ilorin), Rear Admiral Sunday Uguna, the Minister of Finance in the old Mid-Western Region, Chief Ogoegbuname Idise Dafe among others.
When General Abdusalam Abubakar, GCFR, came to power in June 9, 1998, one of the first thing he did was to fire Professor Opia. He then set up a five man panel headed by the Chief of Air Staff, Air Vice Marshall Nsikak Eduok to probe the tenure of Professor Opia. On November 11, 1998, General Abdusalam Abubakar appointed the former Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Adm. Dan Preston Omatsola to run the affairs of OMPADEC.
At the time President Olusegun Obasanjo took over on May 29, 1999, he handed the affairs of OMPADEC to his special adviser on utilities, Mr. Linyel Imoke (58). Mr. Imoke hails from Agbo tribe in Abi Local Government Area of Cross River State. His father, Dr. Samuel Imoke was a medical doctor who became a cabinet minister and leader of Parliament in the former Eastern Region. Mr. Imoke’s mum, Comfort Imoke (nee Imoukhhuode) is from Sabo Gida Ora in Edo state while his dad, Dr. Imoke was a good friend of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. In addition, Mr. Imoke was given the schedule of running the then NEPA by President Obasanjo. Mr. Imoke was later elected Governor of Cross River state in 2007. He served for eight years. Chief Opia was later declared wanted by the police following a petition by ambassador Patrick Dele Cole requesting that 38.4 million allegedly taken from OMPADEC coffer by Chief Opia to buy some equipment for a Port Harcourt base construction company be investigated. The destination of Chief Opia till to date is still unknown, but it was learnt that not less than 6 billion naira was released to Chief Eric Opia for the implementation of certain projects mapped out for the Niger Delta region.
To Be Continued Tomorrow.