To transmit names of nominees for new board to NASS lN’Delta stakeholders react

By Emma Amaize, Jimitota Onoyume, Chioma Onuegbu, Davies Iheamnachor, Emem Idio & Ozioruva Aliu

PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, relieved the Interim Administrator of Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Mr. Effiong Akwa, of his position and directed the most senior director in the commission, Emmanuel Audu-Ohwavborua, to take over the running of its affairs.

This came as monarchs and stakeholders in Niger Delta showed no excitement over the development.

Director of Press, Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, Patricia Deworitshe, announcing Akwa’s sack, said: “President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the disengagement of the Interim Administrator of NDDC, Mr. Effiong Okon Akwa, from his post with immediate effect from today, October 20, 2022.

“Mr. Akwa was appointed interim administrator of the commission for the duration of the forensic audit into the operations of the NDDC, which has now been concluded.

“President Buhari has also approved the constitution of a new management team and governing board of the NDDC in line with Section 5 (2) of the NDDC Act, 2000. The names of the nominees of the new management team and governing board are to be transmitted to the National Assembly for approval.”

In another statement announcing the appointment of Audu-Ohwavborua to oversee the running of the Commission, Deworitshe said: “President has further approved that the most senior director in the Commission should take over the running of the affairs of the Commission in line with the Federal Government Circular dated 4th December 2017, with Ref. No. 50/S./C.2/268, pending the appointment of a substantive Managing Director and members of the Governing Board.

“Accordingly,  Emmanuel Audu-Ohwavborua (FNSE) will perform the duties of the managing director in acting capacity pending the appointment of a substantive Managing Director and members of the Governing Board.”

Buhari should inaugurate substantive board he forwarded to NASS—Stakeholders

Reacting to the development, former National Chairman, Traditional Rulers of Oil Minerals Producing Communities of Nigeria, TROMPCON, HRM Charles Ayemi Botu, said: “Why should President Buhari sack the NDDC sole administrator? This could pass as an afterthought or medicine after death.”

Ayemi-Botu, who is the Pere of Siembiri Kingdom, Delta State, asserted: “President Buhari should salvage his name by promptly inaugurating the substantive board he forwarded to the National Assembly with  Odubu as Chairman and Olorogun Bernard Okumagba as the Managing Director without delay.

“Although by the NDDC Act of 2000, both the managing director and the chairman are for Delta State, we can cede the chairmanship to Edo through alphabetical order.

“As a regional interventionist agency, NDDC should revert to the Presidency and should not be under the purview of the Niger Delta Ministry.”

The Ovie of Idjerhe Kingdom, Delta State, His Royal Majesty, King Obiukowho Whiskey, Udurhie I, told Vanguard: “The sacking of the NDDC sole administrator is a welcome development that should come with the immediate inauguration of the screened and confirmed statutory board of the NDDC under the chairmanship of Dr. Pius Odubu and managing directorship of Olorogun Okumagba.”

“The Federal Government should proceed further to probe the huge financial irregularities that bedeviled the interventionist agency while the sacked sole administrator was in charge. 

“Trying to do another set of nominations will be unfair to those who have waited for three years plus and will further delay the developmental agenda of the region that has suffered so much in the past three years.”

Leader of the South-South Elders Forum,  Anabs Sara-Igbe, said: “It is long overdue. They have done the deed, so he should make up a proper board for NDDC.”

Nothing to be

excited about

The immediate past Attorney-General of Akwa Ibom State and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Uwemedimo Nwoko, said: “Actually my take is that there is nothing to be excited about the news of disengagement of the interim administrator of the NDDC. We are already used to living with their breaches. 

“At a point in time, I think we had actually given up hope. This government has lived in breach of that law for almost seven years. It is amazing that suddenly the Federal Government has woken up and there is nothing we can do.

“So looking at the purported sack of Akwa, we do not know what would be the next thing that they are going to do in violation because they cannot really live without violating the law.”

Buhari never meant well for  N-Delta

Former national president, Ijaw Youth Council, Mr. Eric Omare, said: “Asking for a board of the NDDC to be appointed immediately without making public the report of the forensic audit, which prevented the inauguration of the board, all these while, is meaningless. It clearly shows that the Buhari administration takes decisions without regard to the sensibility of people.

“Here is a government that failed to appoint a governing board for three years and four months and is asking for a board to be appointed seven months to the end of his government. What can a board achieve in seven months? Obviously, Buhari never meant well for the Niger Delta and I am enthusiastic about the decision to appoint the board of the NDDC. Nothing good will come out of it.”

The president of Ijaw Youth Council, IYC, worldwide, Peter Igbifa stated: “It is the most perfect action President Muhammadu Buhari has taken. I have said it times without number that we should have a board for NDDC.

“I have been at the forefront of the agitation for a board, I have organised several protests across the states of the Niger Delta to draw government attention, and I have never shifted my ground.”

The Benin National Congress, BNC, through the president and founder, Ayamekhue Edokpolo told Vanguard: “The position of BNC is very clear, it is a welcome development because sole administrator is antithetical to democratic norms of administration anywhere in the world because, by the Act setting up the NDDC, there was never a time that the legislators conceive a sole administrator position.”

“But it is rather late than never, since the president has taken this decision, we urge him to fulfill his mandate for the Niger Delta people by ensuring a properly made-up board that reflects the wishes and aspirations of the ordinary man and woman, the ordinary boy and girl of Niger Delta region extraction.”