Controversy surrounding the inauguration of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) is yet to settle down.
As the one-week ultimatum given by the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) to the federal government to inaugurate the board for the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) expired weekend, some elders in the region under the auspices of Rural Chiefs and Development Initiative have called on President Muhammadu Buhari to dissolve the interim management committee of the NDDC and inaugurate the president’s nominees cleared and confirmed by the Senate in 2019.
The forum’s leader, Chief Edwin Clark, gave the ultimatum a week ago while addressing journalists in Abuja.
The Ijaw leader had said his desire was to see the best man appointed for the job, saying there was no need for the perceived power tussle.
Clark said the inauguration of a new board for the commission was critical to enable it to realise its mandate of impacting positively on the lives of the people of the region.
In a letter to the President, the Niger Delta chiefs described the Interim Management team set up by the Minister of Niger Delta, Godswill Akpabio, as illegal and unacceptable, saying it negates the Act that establishes the commission.
The letter jointly signed by chairman of the group, Chief Nengi James Eriwori and Barrister Ebinyu George Aderigba, legal adviser, made available to journalists in Abuja, they said that the tenure of the previous interim management board has expired, noting that they were not unaware of the power of the President under the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to delegate his powers to any ministry to carry out any function as contained in Section 170 of the 1999 Constitution as amended.
They argued that the Act establishing the NDDC does not contemplate the setting up of an interim management to take over the management of the commission.
The elders also argued that since the tenure of “the last board elapsed by effluxion of time, it is expedient upon President Buhari to swear in a board in pursuant to the provision of the clear, sacrosanct and unambiguous of the NDDC Act.
“We made bold to say that the interim caretaker committee set up by the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs is not legal entity as same as same is not recognized by law. Therefore, there is no confusion in the NDDC that will warrant the setting up of an interim management committee”.
“We therefore demand for the immediate dissolution of the interim caretaker committee in the interest of peace and development of the Niger Delta Area, which we stand for as your Excellency may have been ill advised by some self-seeking persons contrary to the spirit and intendment of the Act setting up the Niger Delta Development Commission”, the Niger Delta’s leaders added.
The confirmed nominees for NDDC are former Deputy Governor of Edo State, Dr. Pius Odubu, Chairman; Bernard Okumagba (Delta), Managing Director; Otobong Ndem (Akwa Ibom), Executive Director of Projects; Maxwell Oko (Bayelsa), Executive Director of Finance and Administration; Jones Erue (Delta); Victor Ekhator (Edo); Nwogu N Nwogu (Abia) and Theodore Allison (Bayelsa).
Others are Victor Antai (Akwa Ibom); Maurice Effiwat (Cross River); Olugbenga Edema (Ondo); Uchegbu Kyrian (Imo); Aisha Muhammed (North West); Shuaibu Zubairu (North East) and Abdullahu Bage (North Central).