President Muhammadu Buhari has appointed his former media aide, Lauretta Onochie, as the fifth chairman of the board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
Her appointment came three years after the last chairman of the board, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba was dropped by the president on January 25, 2019. The senator was appointed in 2016.
Before her nomination for the new office, which the president sent to the Senate, Onochie was a national commissioner nominee of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) but was rejected because her state, Delta had already produced a commissioner in the electoral body.
Her current nomination for the NDDC headship is seen by stakeholders as a form of compensation for her travails since was turned down by the Senate for the INEC job.
The NDDC was established in 2000 by the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, to fast-track the development of the oil rich Niger Delta region.
Onochie, who hails from Delta State, is the first female chairman of the interventionist agency.
The past chairmen of the NDDC board were Chief Onyema Ugochukwu from Abia State and Air vice Marshal Larry Koinyan (rtd) from Bayelsa as well as Senators Ewa-Henshaw and Victor Ndoma-Egba, all from Cross River State.
In a letter addressed to the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, Buhari also announced the nomination of 15 others as NDDC board members.
The letter was read at Wednesday’s plenary at the red chamber.
In September 2008, late President Umaru Yar’Adua announced the formation of a Niger Delta Affairs Ministry, with the Niger Delta Development Commission becoming a parastatal under the ministry.
One of the core mandates of the commission is to train and educate the youths of the Niger Delta region to curb hostilities and militancy while developing key infrastructure to promote diversification and productivity.
Meanwhile, the Movement for the Survival of the Izon Ethnic Nationality in the Niger Delta (MOSIEND) has lauded the decision of President Muhammadu Buhari to appoint Lauretta Onochie as chairman of the NDDC board.
Also appointed as acting executive director, Finance and Administration of NDDC is Chris Amadi, while Samuel Adjogbe, an engineer, becomes acting executive director, projects.
Speaking with LEADERSHIP in Port Harcourt yesterday, MOSIEND president, Kennedy Tonjo West, said having worked closely with Buhari, he has no doubt that Onochie will implement the president’s vision for the Niger Delta to the fullest.
West said: “I think this is the first time we are having a woman as chairman of the board. It is a novel idea. A lot of people don’t feel too well by the mention of Lauretta. Even I, ordinarily, I don’t feel comfortable.
“But first, she is an SA (special assistant) to the President and she is doing her job. And the kind of job as an SA, she will definitely do what her boss says.
“If you have put that as a yardstick, then, I am quite sure that was what had endeared her to her boss for being thorough and resolute when it comes to her job.
“Coming back as a chairman, she is a Niger Deltan, she has equal right like every other person that should be nominated. I think the National Assembly should expedite action in giving her the pass to come and serve.”