Soni Daniel – Abuja
Former member of the House of Representatives, Chief Nduese Essien, has said that the appointments made by the Presidency into the board of the Niger Delta Development Commission Board (NDDC) are in line with the extant law establishing the agency and should not cause any disagreement in the region.NDDC
It will be recalled that governors in the region and some tribal groups have raised issues with the composition of the board and called for the immediate reversal as they did not meet their expectations.
But Chief Essien, who was part of the team that drafted the NDDC Act, said in a statement in Abuja on Tuesday that the confusion, claims and counter claims of ownership of the key posts in the agency were either borne out of mischief or ignorance or both and were unnecessary since the right thing had been done by the government.
Essien, a former Housing Minister, drew attention to the fact that under the law establishing the commission, the post of the chairman is to rotate among the nine-member states in alphabetical order starting with Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River and now the turn of Delta State.
Essien said: “But as would be seen, the post of the Managing Director also falls for Delta State at the same time with that of the Chairman. The positions of the Managing Director and those of the Executive Directors of Finance and Administration and Projects rotate among the major oil-producing states of Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta and Rivers states according to the quantum of oil produced.
“The rotation of the post of the MD started with Delta Sate followed by Bayelsa, Rivers and Akwa Ibom State. It should now be the turn of Delta State in starting the rotation again among the major oil-producing states. But the point is that both the posts of the MD and the Chairman have fallen simultaneously on Delta at this time.
“And, for the purpose of fairness and equity as well as to create checks and balances in the system, it would not be inappropriate to concentrate the two key positions simultaneously on the state. This explains why the chairmanship has been moved to the next state in alphabetical order, which is Edo while Delta keeps the Managing Director.
“Subsequently, Delta will still take its chairmanship position while the MD moves to Bayelsa State. Apart from the chairman, the posts of MD, Executive Directors for Finance and Projects as well as commissioners are limited to persons from oil-producing areas of the states under the law.
“It is important to say that if the law establishing the NDDC is adhered to, the rancor, confusion and suspicion among member states would be minimized. However, our concern for now should be how to make the commission to work well and serve the Niger Delta better.
“One of the ways to make this happen is to take it away from the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation to the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, which is better placed to supervise and monitor the operations of the commission. The continued retention of the NDDC in the OSGF, which is overburdened by various tasks, has resulted in inefficiency, maladministration and incompetence in the management of the NDDC over the years.
“I, therefore, call on the National Assembly to set in motion the necessary machinery to amend the NDDC Act to domicile the supervision of the NDDC in the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs and to ensure that only core professionals are appointed in place of politicians to run the affairs of the NDDC,” the former lawmaker said.