A Niger Delta socio-political pressure group, Ijaw People’s Development Initiative (IPDI), on Wednesday lent its voice to the demand of several other organisations in the region that the chairmanship position of the newly appointed board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) should be headed by someone from Delta State and not Edo.
The group also called on President Muhammadu Buhari to return the NDDC to the Presidency to supervise, adding that the people of the region did not trust Senator Godswill Akpabio, the Minister of the Niger Delta, to be in charge of the commission.
Comrade Austin Ozobo, IPDI National President, in a statement made available to newsmen, said the appointment of Dr Pius Odubu from Edo State as the substantive chairman of the NDDC board by President Buhari contravened the laws establishing the commission.
According to him, the Establishing Act, explicitly made it clear that the position of the board chairman should be rotated among the NDDC member states on alphabetic order.
He stated: “Going by the alphabetic order, the first chairman was produced by Abia, which is Mr. Oyema Ugochukwu in 2001; followed by Akwa Ibom, Amb. Sam Edem; then Baylesa, Larry Konya and Dr, Timipa, while Cross River produced Bassey Ewa-Henshaw, who was appointed by President Goodluck Jonathan.
“According to the alphabetic order in the NDDC Act, which has been the guiding principle of the commission since its creation, it is now the turn of alphabet D, and alphabet D, stands for Delta State and not Edo State.
“Obviously, by this analysis, it is clear that the appointment of an Edo man as the current NDDC chairman is illegal as it violates the Act of the commission of year 2000, Volume 4.”
Ozobo maintained that the appointment of someone from Benin, which he stressed, does not produced a drop of oil in Edo State as NDDC board chairman, is unacceptable, adding that it is preferable to appoint Ijaws of Edo State who produce the oil to the NDDC board and not Benin, who do not produce a drop of oil.
He maintained that Odudu’s appointment as the NDDC board chairman, was not only unacceptable, but disgusting, describing Buhari’s action as an injustice that should be corrected without delay.
Ozobo also maintained that the position of the commission’s Managing Director should be rotated by the quantity of oil production, adding that currently, Bayelsa produce the highest quantum of oil and not Delta State.
“It is also expected that the MD’s position should be zoned to Bayelsa State, and the chairman position returned to Delta State, and the current two illegal boards, both alleged substantive and interim, be dissolved and fresh board constituted in line with the NDDC Establishment Act.
“Besides, we see no necessity to set up an Interim Management Committee to pilot the affairs of the forensic audit. It is a deliberate clog on the wheel of development in the region and to distract smooth running of the commission.
“We are aware that during President Goodluck Jonathan administration, there was a forensic audit in NNPC. It did not shutdown NNPC’s activities, and No Interim Management Committee was set up to oversee the audit,” Ozobo added.
He stated that in case of Oando Plc, a forensic audit was carried out by Deloitte and Touche, which indicted the oil firm of various scandals and infractions that led to its suspension by Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
This, he stressed, was carried out without a shutdown of activities in Oando and was not done by an Interim Management Committee.
He maintained: “An audit is normally carried out by government’s internal and external auditors. The Akpabio’s interim committee is set up with ulterior motives as it is unnecessary.
“A simple question to answer, if Akpabio does not have confidence in the substantive NDDC board to supervise the forensic audit, what makes him to believe that Joy Gbeneh Nunieh, who is a Rivers State representative in the substantive NDDC board will not compromise being appointed as chairman of the Interim Management Committee?
“It is a fact that the NDDC substantive Board too is faulty. With the zoning of the chairmanship to Edo State, which is a violation or contravention of the NDDC Establishment Act, we want it to be corrected as well. But, if the authorities concerned fail to correct it,we believe it will be corrected through various legal actions pending in the law court.
“Similarly, it is Ijaws’ turn to produce the current chairman of NDDC board. Apart from being on acting capacity since the creation of the commission, no Ijaw man in Delta State had been appointed as substantive chairman of NDDC board.”
He insisted that in the current dispensation, an Ijaw man, by right, should be appointed the commission’s Managing Director and not an Urhobo, for justice, equity and fairness.