THE recent confirmation of the appointment of members of the Board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) by the Senate last week should bring fresh impetus to the battle against the challenges facing the Niger Delta. It will, hopefully, lead to a new era of speedy and sustainable development of the region. The new helmsmen of the board are Sen. Victor Ndoma-Egba (Cross River) as Chairman, and Mr. Nsima Udo Ekere (Akwa Ibom) as Managing Director/CEO.
Other members are Samuel Adjogbe (Delta State), as Executive Director, Projects; Derek Mene (Rivers State) Finance and Administration; Frank George (Akwa Ibom); Brambaifa Nelson (Bayelsa State) and Sylvester Nsa (Cross River). Also on the new board are Ogaga Ifowodo, Stanley Uwuilekhue, Harry Dabibi, Bernard Banfa, Mohammed Yahaya and Mustapha Dankadai. Two other nominees confirmed by the Senate are Mohammed Isa-Dutse and Abdul-Kazeem Bayero, from the Federal Ministry of Finance and Ministry of the Environment, respectively. However, the nomination of three others by the Presidency was rejected by the Senate on the grounds that it contravened the NDDC Act 2007. The Act stipulates that only persons from oil-producing communities are eligible for such positions.
The new board replaces the one chaired by Mr. Bassey Dan Abia, which was sacked by President Muhammadu Buhari in December, last year. Mrs. Ibim Seminitari served in acting capacity as Chairman /MD for ten months. We urge members of the new board to focus on the mandate of the institution and eschew the politicking and the needless power plays that divided the previous board members and diverted their attention from their responsibilities.
We recall the dirty corporate feud which tore apart the pioneer board members in 2001 and pitched its chairman, Chief Onyema Ugochukwu, against the then Managing Director, Mr. Godwin Omene. Worse power play took place at the NDDC during the tenure of the board led by Emma Agwariavwodo, which was locked in a battle of supremacy with the then Managing Director, Amb. Sam Edem. The same thing happened during the tenure of Chibuzo Ugwoha as Managing Director in 2010 when the board was dissolved as a result of a vicious power tussle.
This is the kind of situation that the present board must avoid. Unity of purpose is required to achieve the lofty mandate of the commission, which includes formulation of policies and guidelines for the development of the Niger Delta; implementation of all measures approved for the development of the region by the Federal government and states in the region; identification of the factors inhibiting the development of the region and assisting the member-states in the formulation and implementation of policies to ensure sound and efficient management of the resources of the area.
The board’s other responsibilities include tackling ecological and environmental problems that may arise from the exploration of oil minerals in the region and advising government and member states accordingly, in addition to executing such other works and performing other functions required for the sustainable development of the region. By all standards, these tasks are very important and can only be achieved by a board that is focused on its responsibilities. The members should see their appointment as a call to duty, not as an opportunity to feather their own nests at the detriment of the people of Niger Delta.
No doubt, the problems facing the Niger Delta region remain as daunting as they were 16 years ago when the commission was set up by the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo. Sadly, little has been done in all these years to change the lot of the Niger Delta people. The new board should regard this responsibility as one of its priorities, and take urgent steps to correct the alleged marginalization of some of the Niger Delta states.
We have no doubt that Sen. Ndoma-Egba has the necessary wealth of experience in both public and community service to chair an important intervention agency like the NDDC. He should, alongside other members of the board, look into the commission’s Tenders Board which is vested with the authority to award contracts within N250 million and above. The Tenders Board has been one of the major areas of conflict among the board members in the past.
It is in respect of this that last year’s report of the Auditor General of the Federation on the probe of N183bn NDDC projects covering 2008-2012 remains contentious. Altogether, public expectation is that the new NDDC board will chart a new course and impact positively on the lives of the people of Niger Delta. Nothing less will do.
Source: Today Trending News