The people of Ekeremor, Bayelsa State have risen against the minister of state for petroleum, Chief Timipre Sylva, for allegedly working against their interest in the processes leading to the appointment of a managing director of the NDDC.
This is coming just as it has been revealed that the nomination of Mr Maxwell Oko who was screened and cleared for membership of the board last December, may have been dropped because of the fear that he was too independent minded and financially stable.
Sources said the name of Oko as Managing Director had been on the list for a very long time but that the major players were informed that the man would not be willing to allow money flow from the commission because he was already too comfortable and would not be easily bent.
For example, it was perceived that having bought a house for himself at the Banana Island in Lagos and was doing well in the oil and gas sector, and considering his activism role in the Ijaw struggle, the powers that be were not very comfortable with him.
The monarchs claimed that Sylva plans to upturn the nomination of their son from Peretorugbene in Ekeremor, Bayelsa West as the substantive Managing Director of the NDDC.
According to the royal fathers, the development, if not well handled, would erode the benefits recorded by the Federal Government’s engagement with critical stakeholders to vacate the seven-day ultimatum issued by ex-militant leader, Tompolo.
In a petition to President Muhammadu Buhari, the monarch said Petroleum minister’s move against their son was against the interest of justice, fairness and equity.
The traditional rulers, in the letter dated June 4, 2021, appealed to the president to intervene and stop any act capable of causing further agitations in the region.
Seven traditional rulers signed the petition, copies of which were sent to the Bayelsa State Commissioner of Police and Director, Department of State Service (DSS) and the President of the Ijaw National Congress, (INC).
The petition reads: “On behalf of the traditional rulers and leaders of thought, particularly of Ekeremor LGA extraction in Bayelsa State, we wish to respectively draw your attention to the restiveness of youths resulting from this clear alienation by the APC-led Federal Government.
“Your Excellency Sir, we were highly elated by the newspaper publications naming one Elder Denyanbofa Dimaro, an illustrious son of Peretorugbene community in the Ekeremor LGA of Bayelsa State, as the Managing Director (MD) while Dr. Cairo Ojuogbo from Delta State as the chairman of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
“What has, however, heightened tension amongst the youths and citizenry is the growing rumor that the Minister of State for Petroleum, Chief Timipre Sylva is thwarting this laudable effort of the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Chief Godswill Akpabio.
“In our opinion, the polity and the region are already over heated and anything that will bring about further agitations should be avoided.”
“The Ekeremor LGA is a major oil and gas producing area. Besides, it also provided substantial votes for the APC in the 2015 and 2019 general elections that gave APC victory at the polls.”
“We are, therefore, pleading with Mr. President to consider giving the appointment of the substantive Managing Director of the NDDC to someone from within the above mentioned communities in the Ekeremor LGA of Bayelsa State and particularly as already announced in the media.
Signatories to the petition are: King Joel Ekeni Ibane, Simon Onniye Ogiobo, Timi Odikeme Okere, Roman Deriabebe, Samuel Sapele and Amame Oru
Meanwhile, a group in Edo State, the Benin Youths Assembly (BYA) has called on the federal government to as a matter of urgency inaugurate the board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) whose members were cleared by the Senate since 2019.
A communique issued at the end of its meeting in Benin City and signed by the Coordinator General, Marxist Kola Edokpayi and Secretary General, Barr. Felix Isere, the group also supported the position of High Chief Government Ekpemukpolo popularly called Tompolo which has necessitated a compromise for the inauguration of the board till later in the month of June as promised by the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio.
Part of the statement reads “We are pleased with the outcome of the meeting and the promise by the Hon. Minister to commerce the process of inaugurating a substantive board by the end of June. However, our position is that the Hon. Minister must, as a matter of importance, ensure that the already constituted board with Dr. Pius Odubu as Chairman and Chief Bernard Okumagba as Managing Director, screened and confirmed by the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is the board to be inaugurated.
“That we appreciate and commend the Hon. Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Mr. Godswill Akpabio for initiating the meeting with stakeholders from the region where they were given the opportunity to express themselves. More importantly, we thank the Deputy Governor of Delta State who represented the Governor, Traditional Rulers present and representatives, leaders of the region, who stood-in and spoke on behalf of the various Ethnic Nationalities in Niger Delta.
We salute their bravery and ability to tell the Hon. Minister the truth without fear or compromise.
“That our position is primarily premised on the fact that since the establishment of the NDDC, no person, man or woman, from Benin ethnic nationality has been appointed Chairman in spite of our peaceful and co-operative disposition and our high contribution to Oil and Gas production in Nigeria.
“That the appointment of a Benin man from Orhionmwon Local Government Area (the LGA with the highest Gas production in Nigeria) as Chairman of the Commission was well celebrated by our people who, hitherto, have been marginalized and unfairly relegated in the administration of NDDC. Hence our Royal Father, Omo N’Oba N’Edo, Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Ewuare II personally sent a letter of appreciation to His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari.
“That as a people with great men, women and vibrant youths who have been peaceful, understanding and co-operative with the Federal Government and Oil producing companies in our area, we deserve the Chairmanship of the Commission. Anything short of this will be viewed as injustice and an attempt to undermine the Benins and a deliberate test of the will of our people, which will be vehemently resisted.
“That the appointment of Dr. Pius Odubu, a two time member of the Federal House of Representative, two time Deputy Governor of Edo State and the Director of Logistics, Buhari/Osinbajo Presidential Campaign 2019, as Chairman is a well thought out process and it represents a new hope for the Niger Delta Region. Combined with Mr. Bernard Okumagba, an accomplished banker and an astute technocrat with outstanding record of service as Managing Director, the NDDC will be exceedingly transformed for the interest and development of the Niger Delta Region.
“That no attempt should be made to tinker or alter the board as already constituted, screened and confirmed. The only thing left in the process of having a substantive board for the NDDC is the formal inauguration of the confirmed board. To do otherwise will not only lead to unnecessary delay and conflict of interest, it will create serious legal abnormalities.”