Less than twenty four hours after Governors of the Niger Delta States led by Bayelsa State Governor, Seriake Dickson, protested President Muhammadu Buhari’s nominees to the Board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), various stakeholders across the constituent states of the Niger Delta region have come up heavily in anger against the Niger Delta Governors warning that the statements credited to those Governors who were present at the meeting were baseless, tactless, unfounded, lack logic and are completely incongruent and incompatible with the realities and the unified position of the vast majority of stakeholders and peoples of the Niger Delta region as it relates to Buhari’s nominees to the Board of NDDC.
Stakeholders drawn from various umbrella groups including the Niger Delta Professionals(NDP), South South Coalition for Good Governance(SSCG), Forum for the Advancement of the Niger Delta Region and Niger Delta United For Buhari(NDUB), while commending President Muhammadu Buhari for nominating “these tested, excellent and competent technocrats and professionals who have proven their expertise, knowledge, dynamism and capabilities in managing affairs or issues affecting the Niger Delta in various capacities in the past especially in both public and private sectors of national development,” noted that what the Governors have simply done is a demonstration of unguarded ignorance and a display of tactless political inconsistencies which smacks of total political ignorance of the dynamics in the Niger Delta.
Comrade Jones Tugbokorowei of the South South Coalition for Good Governance accused the Governors of illegally spending and deducting Local Councils allocations without recourse to these Councils “and yet these same set of people want the President to consult them before making appointments into the Board of NDDC.
“They should simply shut up. We want them to tell the whole world whether they themselves consult Local Council chairmen as State Governors before making appointments. So why do they now want to run the government of President Buhari ? They should leave Mr. President to focus, concentrate rather than bringing unsubstantiated idle talks in a reckless attempt to distract Mr. President from his administration’s fundamental goal of taking the country positively and progressively to the next level where the vast majority of Niger Delta people will enjoy the dividends of democracy.”
On his part, the Coordinating Chairman of the Niger Delta Professionals(NDP) Omeragua Joshua Omonemu called on the Governors to listen to the voice of reason and the voice of the people at the grassroots especially the constituent States of the Niger Delta who have acknowledged that these nominees are “accomplished, passionate and excellent technocrats who have demonstrated competencies, capacities and vision for the Niger Delta region’s overall development, stressing that President Buhari should be commended for nominating these eminent sons and daughters of the Niger Delta region to steer the affairs of the NDDC for the next four years. He said: “We in the Niger Delta Professionals want to use this forum to commend Mr. President for nominating these distinguished sons of the Niger Delta. And we believe that given their track records of excellence, performance and accomplishments in various previous positions of high responsibilities, they will deliver and take the Niger Delta region to the next level. What we need now is to appreciate the good gesture of Mr. President and avoid partisan politics. Without mentioning names or singling out their names one after the other, we should be very proud that we have these solid technocrats as accomplished sons of the Niger Delta region. This is the era of professionalism where technocrats are recognized as opposed to political brigands.” The NDP’s coordinating chair therefore called on all stakeholders to remain united with the Federal Government’s vision of advancing the accelerated development of the Niger Delta region.
Chief Akan Akpan of the Niger Delta United for Buhari(NDUB) lambasted Governor Dickson and his colleagues for what he described as failure to gauge the mood in the Niger Delta region before making reckless and provocative statements that do not represent the true situation of the peoples of the Niger Delta as it relates to the nominees into the Board of the NDDC.
“Do these Governors consult with their locals, their people before jumping into making provocative and unfounded statements? We the people of the Niger Delta especially those of us who believe in President Buhari are very happy with the caliber of persons nominated to steer the affairs of the NDDC. These are reputable professionals with seasoned backgrounds and track records. The people of Ondo State are my own brothers as we are all from the Niger Delta region. They should know that there is a solid official legal position which states clearly how the offices of the NDDC shall rotate and in this particular case, President Buhari has simply adhered faithfully to that position. These positions will go round all the states. So we should know that the government is committed to taking our beloved Niger Delta region to the next level and it should be commended and saluted.”
Chief Akpan also accused the immediate past acting management of fraudulent contract awards and desperate attempts to effect last minute payments from the coffers of the Commission. “As I speak to you, are you aware that there was an attempt by the past acting MD and EDFA to effect payment of N200m to themselves through a surrogate firm? Are you aware of the multi-billion Naira emergency contracts awarded by the immediate past acting management team to the tune of several billions without due process? We have all the compilations and we are forwarding them to the presidency to take appropriate actions. Let me give you one example. There is an emergency construction of 11|33kv Injection substation and distribution of electricity within Ikwerre (Prestine Lakes Estates) Lot 3) in Ikwerre LGA Rivers State for over Nine hundred million naira (N 999, 769, 569.75) yet what is the status?”
Chief Akpan called on all Niger Delta stakeholders to rally round the political leaders of the Niger Delta region stressing that this is the first time in decades that the Region has produced the Deputy President of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in the person of Distinguished Senator Ovie Omo-Agege and as the undisputed highest political Officer from the Niger Delta, “there is no doubt that working with other accomplished leaders such as Chief HE Timipreye Sylva, Honorable Minister of State for Petroleum, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, National Chairman of the APC, Chief Godswill Akpabio, Honorable Minister of Niger Delta, and a host of others, the accelerated development of the region is assured”. Chief Akpan commended Omo-Agege, Sylva, Oshiomhole, Akpabio, etc for providing direction and demonstrating excellent leadership on the Niger Delta question within this period.
It would be recalled that President Buhari had nominated the following to the Board of the NDDC; Dr Pius Odubu(Edo) Chairman, Chief Bernard Okumagba(Delta) Managing Director, Engr Otobong Ndem(Akwa Ibom) Executive Director, Projects, Maxwell Okoh(Bayelsa) Executive Director, Finance and Administration, Delta Rep Prophet Jones Erue, Edo Rep Chief Victor Ekhatar, Rivers Rep, Dr Joy Nunieh and Abia Rep, Nwogu Nwogu. Others were Bayelsa Rep. Theordore Allison, Akwa Ibom Rep, Victor Antai, Cross River Rep, Maurice Effiwatt, Ondo Rep, Olugbenga Elema, Imo Rep, Uchegbu Kyrian, Northwest Rep; Aisha Murtala Muhammed(Kano), North East Rep, Ardo Zubairu(Adamawa) and SouthWest Rep, Engr Badmus Mutalab(Lagos).