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NDDC Board Chair Appointment And Issues At Stake

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As protests continue to trail the recent announcement of board members of the Niger Delta Development Commission, there are speculations that the Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomole may have been behind the moves that ensured the chairmanship of the body went to Edo State instead of Ondo State.

Multiple sources who claim to be aware of the horse-trading that resulted in the announcement of former Deputy Governor of Edo State under Oshiomole, Dr. Pius Odubu as Chairman of the NDDC board revealed that President Muhammadu Buhari had planned to ensure the chairmanship position went to Ondo State, with Mr. Sola Oke as the most likely choice of Governor Rotimi Akerodolu for the position.

Sola Oke, we learnt, became the Ondo governor’s candidate as part of compensation to the former governorship aspirant who had defected from the PDP to contest the ticket with Governor Akeredolu.

It was also gathered that elements at the APC hierarchy led by the APC Chairman may have connived with powerful elements in the presidency to take advantage of President Buhari’s recent trip to Japan for the 7th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) to announce the constitution of the board, believing it was going to be too late for Mr. President to reverse it on his return.

Other sources also claim former Delta State Governor, Mr. James Ibori, may have also worked behind the scene to ensure the emergence of Bernard Okumagba as Managing Director of NDDC.

“Those who fought hard to ensure that the All Progressives Congress scored the 25 percent statutory minimum votes in Delta State are feeling hard-done-by following this announcement,” our source said, wondering why the federal government would allow the NDDC board to be selected mostly from the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Although he didn’t go into details, our source said the proposed NDDC board currently awaiting the approval of the Senate was a “flagrant violation of the enabling Act that established the NDDC as regards the composition of new board,” but was certain that the arrangement where, as he revealed, the APC constituted only 20 percent of the board’s membership while the PDP took the lion’s share of 80 percent was preposterous and does not suggest that the ruling party is desirous of growing the party in the Niger Delta and Delta State in particular.

“You don’t do that in an environment like ours where bitter political rivalry is the order of the day. Some people may say that we are equal stakeholders in Nigeria but you do not reward the opposition with juicy positions that they can leverage to limit the growth of your own political party and with that, contain your future electoral fortunes, and that is why Mr. President has to reverse this before it hurts our party mortally in this region,” the source stated.

It would be recalled that protests have continued to mount since the August 26, 2019 announcement of a new board for the Niger Delta Development Commission. Some online reports had earlier reported that President Muhammadu Buhari was not happy that the list was released in his absence and may sanction those found to have played a role in the compilation of the list.

On September 11, 2019, a group, known as the Coalition of Delta South APC outlined reasons Mr. Bernard Okumagba should not be made the Managing Director of the Commission. They claimed that Mr. Okumagba is from the same Urhobo ethnic nationality as the Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege and the Minister of State for the Niger Delta, Festus Keyamo (SAN), a suggestion that other ethnic nationalities in Delta State are being marginalized, adding that the first two Managing Directors of the NDDC were both from the Urhobo ethnic stock and since the position had not been zoned to Delta State ever since, there was no reason another Urhobo should be returned to the same position at the expense of other ethnic groups in the state.

–    Okoh wrote from Lagos

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