NDDC Board appointments create turmoil in Niger Delta.

The nominations of members of the fifth Niger Delta Development Commission board by the Presidency on August 27 is brewing crisis in the oil-bearing belt.

A disregard for the provisions of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Act in the recent appointment of members of the new board by the Presidency is raising dust in the turbulent oil belt. On August 27, the office of the Secretary to the government of the federation, SGF, announced a 16-member board that did not conform to the law that ensured peaceful transitions in the board since its establishment in 2000.

1Dr. Pius OdubuChairmanEdo
2Bernard O. OkumagbaManaging DirectorDelta
3Engr. Otobong NdemExecutive Director ProjectsAkwa Ibom
4Maxwell OkohExecutive Director Finance & AdminBayelsa
5Prophet Jones ErueDelta RepresentativeDelta
6Chief Victor EkahtarEdo RepresentativeEdo
7Dr. Joy Yimebe NuniehRivers RepresentativeRivers
8Nwogu NwoguAbia RepresentativeAbia
9Theodore A. AllisonBayelsa RepresentativeBayelsa
10Victor AntaiAkwa Ibom RepresentativeAkwa Ibom
11Maurice EffiwattCross River RepresentativeCross River
12Olugbenga ElemaOndo RepresentativeOndo
13Uchegbu Chidiebere KyrianImo RepresentativeImo
14Aisha Murtala MuhammedNorthwest Rep RepresentativeKano
15Ardo ZubairuNortheast Rep RepresentativeAdamawa
16Engr. Badmus MutalibSouthwest Rep RepresentativeLagos
  • Members of the controversial new NDDC Board. *Table by TELL

As exclusively reported by TELL prior to the announcement politicians were scheming to lobby their preferred candidates into the board, especially the four top positions of chairman, Managing director, EDP and EDFA, in disregard to the provisions of the Act establishing the Commission. True to our report the chairman of the board was wrongfully assigned to Edo State, instead of Delta and MD to Delta instead of Ondo.

According to the NDDC Act, all the nine oil-producing states of Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Imo, Ondo and Rivers are to produce the two topmost positions of chairman and managing director in stipulated order. While the office of the chairman shall rotate among the oil-producing states in alphabetical order, the office of the managing director shall rotate among the nine states according to their oil production volume

Part 1V of the Act provides for “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 among member states in order of production.”

The Act came into effect on July 12, 2000, and Abia State, the first in alphabetical order produced the first chairman in Onyema Ugochukwu. Similarly, according to the production volume then, Delta State was the number one and produced the first managing director in Godwin Omene. 

Presently, the oil production quantum according to the nine states are as follows: 

S/N State Production Quantum
1 Akwa Ibom 31.4%
2 Delta 21.56%
3 Rivers 21.4%
4 Bayelsa 18.07%
5 Ondo   3. 74%
6 Edo State   2.06%
7 Imo   1.06%
8 Abia 0.68%
9 Cross River  

* Production quantum by nine NDDC states. *TELL

When Omene was removed in 2002, he was replaced by Emmanuel Aguariavwodo also from the same Delta as MD. Timi Alaibe from Bayelsa State was the executive director, finance and administration while Udoh Mbosoh from Akwa Ibom was the executive director, projects. When Mbosoh was removed in 2002, he was replaced by Ukot Thomas Ukot also from Akwa Ibom State who completed the tenure of the first board 

In the second board, Sam Edem from Akwa Ibom was chairman and Timi Alaibe from Bayelsa as MD.  Pastor Power Aginighan from Delta State was EDFA, while Beneiah  Ojum from Rivers State was the EDP. According to the law, when a person is removed, another from the same state is appointed to complete its tenure on the board. 

In the third board, Larry Koinyan of Bayelsa State, a retired Air Vice Marshal, was chairman and Chibuzo Ugwuoha of Rivers State was MD. Pastor Power Aginighan from Delta State was the EDFA and Esoetok Etteh from Akwa Ibom was EDP. 

The third board was dissolved and new members were appointed from the same states to complete their tenure as follows: Tariah Tebepah from Bayelsa as chairman; Christian Oboh, Rivers State as MD; Jambert Koboye from Delta, EDFA; and Edikan Eshiet from Akwa Ibom as EDP.

The fourth board followed the same pattern.  Bassey Ewa Henshaw from Cross River was chairman; Bassey Dan Abia from Akwa Ibom MD; Henry Ogiri from Rivers EDFA and Omotule Tuoyo from Delta as EDP. 

The fourth board was dissolved in 2015 and new members were appointed from the same states to complete their tenure as follows: Victor Ndoma Egba from Cross River, chairman; Nsima Ekere, Akwa Ibom, MD; Meme Derek, Rivers, EDFA; and Adjogbe Ajenakuwe, Delta, EDP. Their tenure expired and President Muhammadu Buhari dissolved the board in January 2019.

1 Abia Onyema Ugochukwu Chairman 2000 – 2004
2 Delta Engr Godwin Omene MD 2000 – 2002
3 Delta Emmanuel Aguariavwodo MD 2000 – 2004
4 Bayelsa Timi Alaibe EDFA 2002 – 2004
5 Akwa Ibom Engr Udoh Mbosoh EDP 2000 – 2004
6 Akwa Ibom Engr. Ukot Thomas Uko EDP 3002 -2004

*First Board pf NDDC from 2000 – 2004

1 Akwa Ibom Sam Edem Chairman 2004 – 2008
2 Delta Emmanuel Aguariavwodo MD 2002 – 2005
3 Bayelsa Timi Alaibe           MD 2005 – 2008
4 Delta Pastor Power Aginighan EDFA 2005 – 2008
5 Rivers Engr Beneiah Ojum EDP 2004 – 2008

*Second NDDC Board from 2005 – 2008.

1 Bayelsa Larry Koinyan Chairman 2009 – 2011
2 Rivers Chibuzor Ugwuoha MD 2009 – 2011
3 Delta Pastor Power Aginighan EDFA 2009 – 2011
4 Akwa Ibom Arc Esoetok Etteh EDP 2009 – 2011

*Third NDDC Board from 2009 – 2011

1 Bayelsa Tariah Tebepah Chairman 2011 – 2013
2 Rivers Dr Christian Oboh MD 2011 – 2013
3 Delta Engr Lambert Koboye EDFA 2011 – 2013
4 Akwa Ibom Engr Edikan Eshiet EDP 2011 – 2013

*Continuation of Fourth Board from 2011 – 2013

1 Cross River Bassey Ewa Henshaw Chairman 2013 – 2015
2 Akwa Ibom Bassey Dan Abia MD 2013 – 2015
3 Rivers Henry Ogiri EDFA 2013 – 2015
4 Delta Engr OmotsuleTuofo EDP 2013 – 2015

*Fourth Board from 2013 – 2015

1 Cross River Ndoma Egba, SAN Chairman 2016 – 2019
2 Akwa Ibom Nsima Ekere MD 2016 – 2019
3 Rivers Meme Derek EDFA 2016 – 2019
4 Delta Engr Adjogbe Ajenakwe EDP 2016 – 2019

*Continuation of fourth board.  *Tables by TELL showing the list of NDDC MDs since 2000 to 2019

Other anomalies in the composition of the board include the appointment of a representative for the Southwest. Part 1(c) of the NDDC Act provides for “three persons to represent non-oil producing states provided that such membership should be drawn from the remaining geopolitical zones which are not represented in the Commission.

In this regard, Ondo State is from the Southwest and Lagos State is from Southwest; therefore, traditionally, southwest did not produce representatives in all the four previous boards of the Commission. The three zones that produce representatives are Northeast, Northwest and Northcentral. But in this board, the position of Northwest was given to Southwest/Lagos State. Three other members will represent oil producing companies in the Niger Delta, Federal Ministry of Finance and Federal Ministry of Environment, making a 19-member board.

The implication of the composition of the new board, which will come before the National Assembly for screening, is either that the hawks in the presidency who yielded to lobbyists did bother to read the NDDC Act or it was a deliberate act of impunity. A politician interviewed in the course of this story who wishes to remain anonymous told the Magazine, “It’s all politics; forget the law.” And it turned out as he predicted it will.

Expectedly, governors of the NDDC states immediately rejected the appointments as it did not have their input and did not conform to the Act. At an emergency meeting in Abuja, they resolved to seek audience with President Muhammadu Buhari to complain and request for a reversal.  At the meeting were: Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, Ondo; Godwin Obaseki, Edo; Emmanuel Udom, Akwa Ibom; Seriake Dickson, Bayelsa; Emeka Ihedioha, Imo; and Okezie Ikpeazu,Abia. The three others sent representatives. 

Dickson briefed the Press after meeting. “We are all unanimously of the view that we are concerned about the governance process of that very critical development agency. We are aware of the general dissatisfaction of the various states in the regions. We are also concerned about the way and manner the recent appointments have been made. Arising from all this, firstly we want to use this opportunity to call for calm in all our states following the recent announcement that we made. And accordingly, we have decided that as soon as it is convenient for Mr. President, we intend to have an audience with him because we are critical stakeholders and the NDDC is a very critical developmental agency that is structured to partner, collaborate with the state governors who are critical partners. And as soon as his convenience permits to discuss in greater details, our views on some of this critical issues affecting the NDDC so that it will be repositioned for greater efficiency and then you have an effective governance mechanism, to carry on with their business. That is what we have met and agreed on.”

The governors called for peace in their states as the issues were being resolved.

Be that as it may, Abuja is inundated with protests and counter protests on the appointments. From Edo State the youth are up in protest against the nominees from their state. Youths in Ovia Northeast Local Government have alleged marginalization in the board of the Commission. Likewise, the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Ovia Northeast has rejected the nomination of Pius Odubu and Chief Victor Ekhator as board members of the commission.  In an open letter to President Buhari, the APC in the area said that whereas Orhionmwon and Ikpoba-Okha councils have been duly represented, Ovia Northeast has remained marginalized.

According to them, “With a careful analysis and assessment of all the issues…and if your opinion and position is not in doubt but in the affirmative, Ovia Northeast should be given the opportunity to serve on the board of NDDC. Orhionmwon representatives have served in NDDC for 18 years, while several representatives from Ikpoba-Okha have served for eight years. “We pray Your Excellency to consider the principle of rotation and zoning as provided by the NDDC Act Section 2 (1) and reserve the NDDC chairman and commissioner positions to Ovia Northeast who have been denied any representation in the past 26 years.

 The youths of Ovia Northeast also alleged that Ekhator was imposed as Edo NDDC representative by APC’s national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole. “We demand equal representation in the NDDC. This is marginalization of the highest order. We want relevant authorities to ensure that Ovia North East is not cheated.”

In Abuja, the APC is asking the governors to mind their business. In a statement by its National Vice Chairman, South-South,  Ntufam Hilliard Eta, described the conduct of the governors as ‘very shameful and disgraceful.’..

“Ordinarily, we would have ignored such disgraceful steps by men we thought could have known better, but it has become imperative that we stand in the defense of justice and for the benefit of Nigerians. It is sad that these Governors of the Oil rich states of the Niger Delta who should be highly concerned by the level of poverty and deteriorating state of infrastructure in the zone, are rather being parochial, selfish and exhibiting the highest form of ignorance in governance.

“They are only interested in ensuring that their family members, cronies and stooges are appointed to strategic positions, to the detriment of the generality of Nigerians. The steps by these self-serving Governors just goes to show that indeed their election into such high offices were just a direct product of the subversion of the collective wills of the people in the last general elections. We view these steps taken by these Governors as very dishonorable and it shows that governance in our zone is at the lowest ebb…For us, we view this as crass irresponsibility, shameful display of ignorance, and opposition politics carried too far.”

Good Governance and Fight against Corruption, another Niger Delta group protested the ‘anomaly’ last Tuesday in Abuja, bandying placards with various screaming inscriptions:  “President Buhari save us from corrupt leaders”; “NDDC is for the development of Niger Delta and not for political gains.”

 Afred Etuk, leader of the group said, “Our people, especially the youths, are not happy with the process that led to the nomination and selection of the new board members of the Commission.” He urged the President to reverse the appointments to avert brewing crisis in the Niger Delta.

This is the first time nominations to the NDDC board will generate such uproar. And it is justified. A President who swore at the Eagle Square to operate the Constitution of Nigeria must needs rule by the law. If he has issues with the NDDC Act he can suggest amendments to the National assembly but until that is done, Mr President and his aides must obey the NDDC Act.

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