By Perez Brisibe
GOVERNORS from the Niger Delta States and indigenes of the region have been asked to eschew unnecessary rivalry and politics against the nominees of the new board of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC.
It will be recalled that the presidency last week Tuesday, announced former Edo State Deputy Governor Pius Odubu as the chairman of the new board alongside Olorogun Bernard Okumagba, Otobong Ndem, and Maxwell Okoh whom are to serve as Managing Director, Executive Director Projects and Executive Director Finance and Administration respectively.
Others are: Jones Erue (Delta); Chief Victor Ekhatar (Edo); Dr. Joy Yimebe Nunieh (Rivers); Nwogu Nwogu (Abia); Theodore A. Allison (Bayelsa); Victor Antai (Akwa Ibom); Maurice Effiwatt (Cross River); Olugbenga Elema (Ondo) and Uchegbu Chidiebere Kyrian (Imo) while Aisha Murtala Muhammed from Kano, Ardo Zubairu from Adamawa and Badmus Mutalib from Lagos States are to serve as Northwest, Northeast and Southwest representatives respectively.
The governors, Seriake Dickson, Bayelsa; Rotimi Akeredolu, Ondo State; Godwin Obaseki, Edo State; Udom Emmanuel, Akwa Ibom State and representatives of two other states, who met at Abuja, last Thursday, claim that the process leading to nomination of the new board “does not reflect effective governance mechanism.”
Speaking on behalf of the governors, Dickson explained that a planned meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari became imperative following “protests that arose from stakeholders across the nine member states of the NDDC.”
Governors receive knocks from stakeholders
However, the position of the governors has been pooh-poohed by stakeholders of the region including leaders from the various ethnic groups in the region who accused them of playing politics amidst unnecessary rivalry.
President General of the oldest socio-cultural group in the region, Urhobo Progress Union, UPU, Olorogun Moses Taiga, asked the governors and others critical of the nominees, to support the newly-constituted board to succeed.
“We should support the new board to succeed and we can all do that by eschewing unnecessary rivalry, politics and any form of distractions, but to collectively work and contribute towards the success of the board so that our region can enjoy the much-needed growth and development.”
The new board will live to expectation – Ologbotsere of Warri kingdom
The Itsekiri nation through the Ologbotsere of Warri kingdom, Chief Ayiri Emami, applauded the president for the nominations, saying that the President put round pegs in round holes stressing that the new board would live to expectation, unlike the past board that failed to develop the region.
He said: “The new board should focus on all ongoing projects so that it doesn’t end the way of the last board, which did not represent what President Buhari stands for. We have two very solid ministers for the Niger Delta in Godswill Akpabio and Festus Keyamo, and with this team, they should be able to deliver on the mandate of the President. They must go to site and ensure that works that are ongoing in papers are ongoing in reality.”
Urhobo, Ijaw youths set agenda for new board, seeks support
Youths from the region precisely the Urhobo and Ijaw ethnic groups, have also expressed their support for the new board with the Ijaw Youths Council (IYC) stating that the new helmsmen would perform to expectation.
Speaking on behalf of the youths, IYC president, Eric Omare, tasked the new board to tackle the infrastructural deficit in the region, saying, “The new NDDC management must keep politics aside and face the developmental challenges of the Niger Delta region. We call on all stakeholders in the region to give the new board the required support to achieve their mandate.”
Move by S-South Governors is selfish – NFPI
Also, the Nigeria Female President Initiative, NFPI, a pro-democracy group on its part, countered the position of the governors and questioned the rationale behind their desire to resist the nominations for the new board.
The group in a statement by its coordinator, Felix Akpoyibo described the move of the governors as unwholesome, selfish and opposed to the well-being of the people of the Niger Delta region where the governors, over the years, have strangulated the NDDC from carrying out its mandate to the people of the region.
It pointed out that President Muhammadu Buhari has the constitutional right to nominate board members to any federal agency such as the NDDC with or without considering the inputs of the governors.
They, however, saluted the courage of Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, Governor of Delta state in refusing to identify with other governors of the region that are opposed to the nominations made by President Buhari and charged the aggrieved governors to emulate the wisdom of the Delta state governor.
“NDDC is not a local government council where governors divert funds for their personal interests. President Buhari’s choice of the nominees was done in good faith for the interest and development of the ordinary people of the region.
“Gone are the days of the PDP when South-South governors dictate who becomes what in NDDC and expect returns on investment from their choice nominees just as they dictate those that become commissioners, SAs, chairmen of state boards, their gardeners and their cooks.”
He urged the presidency not to budge to the pressure of the governors over the NDDC nominees and encouraged the National Assembly to go ahead in screening and clearing the various nominees without fear or favour.
N’Deltans to Governors: Focus on improving plight of the people
Indigenes from the region under the aegis of the Niger Delta People Confederation, NDPC on their part, asked the governors to stop meddling in affairs they have no authority over and focus on improving the plight of the people they govern by displaying more accountability in their questionable management of the resources of the region.
The people in a statement yesterday, told the governors to concern themselves with their States which is lagging behind in terms of modern infrastructures, sustainable human development and capacity building as well as economic growth.
It also questioned the sudden interest of the Governors in the affairs of the NDDC when in their individual states; they operate a non-transparent system depriving the people of the rights to ask questions on how resources are spent.
The statement which was signed by the NDPC Coordinator-General, Iyamo Osaro, said: “The South-South Governors who have not used the resources accrue to their various States cannot suddenly rise from their shell to question the appointments of anybody in the region.
“Why did South-South Governors suddenly develop interest in NDDC affairs when the citizens of their various States do not know how the affairs of their States are being run? Who does South-South Governors consult whenever they make appointments in their various States?” It asked in the statement.