A political group, Progressives Advocates Initiative (PAI) has expressed displeasure over the recent appointment of a new Board and Management Team of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
The group said it was the turn of Ondo State to produce the Managing Director of NDDC, noting that the state has been shortchanged, hence creating an imbalance in the representation of different states within the NDDC.
PAI in a lengthy letter addressed to President Tinubu, signed by its Chairman, Augustine Akinkunmi and Secretary, Adebayo Adubiaro, kicked against the appointments of former Ondo SSG, Hon. Ifedayo Abegunde and a former Federal Lawmaker, Hon. Wole Akinjo, into the NDDC Board.
The letter partly reads, “First and foremost, we would like to emphasise that it is the turn of Ondo State to produce the Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission. For several years, Bayelsa State has occupied this position, creating an imbalance in the representation of different states within the NDDC. As a state that has made significant contributions to the development of the oil and gas sector, Ondo State deserves its fair share of the leadership of this crucial organisation.”
“As you are aware, Bayelsa State currently holds the position of Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, while Akwa Ibom State holds the position of Minister of State, Gas Resources, and Edo State holds the position of Minister of Niger Delta Affairs. Given these existing appointments, it is only just and equitable that Ondo State, as the fifth largest producer of crude oil in Nigeria, assume the position of Managing Director of the NDDC. This would ensure a fair distribution of leadership responsibilities among the oil-producing states and promote inclusivity in the decision-making processes of the commission.”
“We firmly believe that by appointing a Managing Director from Ondo State, the NDDC will benefit from the rich experiences and insights that Ondo State brings to the table. Ondo State has a wealth of knowledge and expertise in the oil and gas sector, and its active participation in the leadership of the NDDC will undoubtedly contribute to the overall effectiveness and success of the commission’s mandate.”
“Your Excellency, the current Managing Director, was given a two-year tenure by President Muhammadu Buhari to complete the residue of Bayelsa State’s tenure. Chief Samuel Ogboku was appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari to complete what was considered a two-year residue. However, following the dissolution of the former board, where Ondo State was clearly shortchanged, Bayelsa State should not be granted another four-year term. Therefore, it is only fair and just that Ondo State be given the opportunity to produce the managing director.”
“Furthermore, we would like to highlight a specific concern regarding the nomination of Hon. Ifedayo Abegunde as the Executive Director, Corporate Affairs. It has come to our attention that Hon. Abegunde is not from the oil-producing area of Ondo State, which is in direct violation of Section 12(1) of the NDDC Act 2000, as amended. According to this Act, anyone occupying the position of Executive Director must hail from the oil-producing area of the state. In Ondo State, Ilaje Local Government is the only council that falls within the oil-producing LGA category. However, Hon. Abegunde hails from Akure South Local Government, which is not an oil-producing area of Ondo State.”
“Sections 12 (1) of the Act stipulates thus: “There shall be for the Commission, a Managing Director, and two Executive Directors who shall be indigenes of oil producing areas starting with the member states of the Commission with the highest
production quantum of oil and shall rotate amongst member states in the order of production.”
“We believe that strict adherence to the provisions of the NDDC Act is crucial to ensuring fair representation and effective leadership within the commission. By doing so, you will not only uphold the rule of law but also promote transparency and accountability in the selection process.”
“Mr President, one of the major concerns we also wish to highlight is the nomination of Hon. Kolade Akinjo as the representative of Ondo State on the board. It will interest you to know that Hon. Akinjo was the candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the February 25th House of Representatives election for the Ilaje/Ese-Odo federal constituency. However, he lost to our great party, the APC. We find it demoralising that the first political position coming to the area has been given to a member of the opposition party. This raises questions regarding the reward for loyalty within our party.”
“Moreover, we are fully aware of the individuals behind these nominations and appointments and their motivations. During the tenure of the Chief of Staff, Femi Gbajabiamila, as Speaker of the House of Representatives, the current Minister of Interior, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, served as the Chairman of the House Committee on NDDC, while Mr. Akinjo was a member of the committee. It is evident to us that these appointments were made as a result of a prearranged arrangement to undermine the loyalists of our party. We strongly believe that such actions do not serve the best interests of our party and its long-term stability.”
The group however, lamented that “Unfortunately, the absence of our governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Odunayo Akeredolu SAN, CON, whose tireless efforts in supporting and working for our party have been remarkable, has allowed for certain actions and manoeuvres that undermine those who have tirelessly dedicated themselves to the party’s cause. We believe that the governor’s absence has created a void that has allowed for the continuation of these moves that are undermining the very individuals who have risked everything for the success of our party.”
“Furthermore, we have received credible information that the attack and bombing of the Saint Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Owo, the governor’s hometown, was a result of his unwavering insistence that Ondo State must produce the next Managing Director of the NDDC. This revelation deeply concerns us, as it indicates the lengths to which some individuals are willing to go to thwart the governor’s efforts and undermine the party’s objectives.”