It is becoming clear, that the inauguration of the board of the NDDC is being delayed because some top officials in The Presidency have been battling with the minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, over the list of nominees for the board.
While some of the president’s men are insisting on the inclusion of certain names on the list, the minister is believed to be insisting on his own choice of nominees.
For example, the nomination of Chief Samuel Ogbuku as managing director has become a major issue. Akpabio had actually insisted on his nomination, before he was forced by heavyweights in Aso Rock to drop the name.
The minister was said to have gone for another candidate from Bayelsa West, Denyanbofa Dimaro without the consent of the minister of state, petroleum, Chief Timipre Sylva who had earlier supported some other person.
This aside, there is very strong clamour for the inauguration of the board members that were screened and confirmed by the senate, in December last year. Akpabio is said to be uncomfortable with this.
Those who are clamouring for this believe that since a board had already been confirmed, it was only necessary for the team to be inaugurated, even though some names and positions may be swapped.
But one of the persons that Akpabio has clearly favoured to be part of the new board is the current sole administrator, Effiong Akwa. His name has remain untouched in the list.
Last week, there were speculations that Akpabio had moved to drop Bernard Okumagba as chairman of the board.
Okumagba, last December, was screened and confirmed as MD by the senate. But he was listed recently as chairman, while Cairo Ojugbo was dropped.
But TNN learnt that Akpabio has been making moves to bring back Ojugbo, a development that is not going down well with the deputy senate president, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege.
But Akpabio has denied that he was manipulating affairs in the NDDC for his personal interest. He told TNN that the allegations were untrue, even as he also denied that he was running the NDDC as a personal estate. He spoke through his chief press secretary, Mr Jackson Udom.
This is how the online interview went:
The delay in inauguration of a new board for NDDC has generally been attributed to a few factors…one of it being that the minister is at daggers drawn with some people who are not comfortable that the minister is trying to impose his will in the nomination processes. Some people in The Presidency are believed to be fighting the minister; which is why some names that were on the list before now have been dropped and the fight is now raging. What is the real picture?
His response: The minister is not behind the delay and not at daggers drawn with anybody. The president in his last meeting with Ijaw leaders, stated categorically that the board would be inaugurated immediately the forensic audit reported is submitted and received by the government. The minister is not and has not imposed any member of the board on the zone. There is no reason for that. He has not fought, he is not fighting and he will not fight any one as you have said. In fact there is no basis for that. The presidency and the minister as far as I know are working together to give the region a new lease of life after over 2 decades of abandonment.
Nominations from Bayelsa for the position of MD have become a serious issue right now. The contest appears to be between Chief Timipre Sylva and the minister on one hand, and then the deputy Senate president and the minister on the other hand. There is also the Tinubu angle to the struggle on who will nominate the MD. This, we understand, is the major reason for the delay. Is this not true?
That is not true. Why not wait until the forensic report is submitted to see if the board will not be inaugurated as promised by the president. Let us not put the horse before the cart. All those are mere rumour.
How about the allegations on the running of the NDDC by the minister? It is said that the sole administrator who is seen as the minister’s surrogate, takes instructions from the minister before payments can be made to anybody. And the minister does so , most times at verbally or he uses some short memo pads to direct, and he rarely uses his own phone to give verbal instructions to the sole administrator.
Why is the minister insisting on keeping the sole administrator as EDFA in the new board that is being contemplated?
I am not aware of that. All those to me are here say. Akwa is over 50 years. How would you say a man of such experience and exposure would be someone’s surrogate? All those are lies that hold no waters. Is Akwa not from Akwa Ibom state and from an oil producing community as required by the law? If the minister insists on keeping him as EDFA, as you have said, he has not gone against the law.
Are we expecting a brand new board? What will happen to those who were screened and confirmed by the senate last year?
I am not privy to the names of those submitted to Mr. president for inauguration. But what I know is that the NDDC board would be inaugurated as promised.