October 1, 2023

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NDDC Board Nominees’ Fate Hangs *High-Level Politicking Enters Next Stage *Those Working Against New Board Revealed

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High level manipulations and politicking with a view to preventing the screened members of the board of the NDDC from being confirmed have now taken the centre stage.
This came after a court order which was issued since December 12 by an Abuja court, was made public on Friday. The court had ordered that the processes for the legislative confirmation of the nominees should be suspended, pending the determination of the case.



With the court order, those who have been fighting to stop the confirmation and inauguration of the board, which has Lauretta Onochie as chairman, are now emboldened to fight harder.
Those who approached the court to stop the screening and confirmation of the chairman and the managing director, Dr Sam Ogbuku were Chief Edward Ekpokpo and Victor Wood who are both representing the Itsekiri Leaders of Thought as well as Mr Edward Omagbemi who is presenting Omadino Unity Forum all on behalf of the Itsekiri ethnic nationality.


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The first to sixth defendants in the suit are President Muhammadu Buhari, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami; Senate President, Ahmad Lawan; the Senate, Onochie and Ogbuku.
According to them, it is the turn of the Itsekiri ethnic nationality to produce the NDDC board chairman and MD as the highest oil-producing community in Delta State.



The presiding judge, Justice J. K. Omotosho, upon reading the affidavit and hearing the counsel to the plaintiff, had declared as follows:
“That leave is hereby granted to the plaintiffs to serve the 5th and 6th defendants with the originating processes in this suit by substituted means to wit by advertising the processes in at least one national newspaper circulating within the jurisdiction of this to court and to deem the same as proper service.


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“That an order is hereby made that no party in this suit shall take any step or act or action that may make the outcome of the pending motion on notice for injunction Dated and filed December 12, 2022, nugatory.
“That any act or step or action taken in this order to make the outcome of the said motion on notice dated and filed December 12, 2022, nugatory shall be a nullity.” The matter was adjourned to January 11 next year, for further hearing.



TNN learnt that there have been serious opposition to the nomination of the chairman and the MD. It was further learnt that a former governor from one of the south-south states has also been part of those fighting against them.
Among those who have also insisted that the right thing should be done in the management of the NDDC, are some serving ministers in the government of Muhammadu Buhari, some top senators and some officials in the NDDC.


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This combination may have contributed to the dashed hopes of the two nominees. There is also no clear picture on what will be the fate of the other nominees who do not have any issues.
TNN learnt that the former governor has been fighting hard to ensure that one of the two nominees that have been affected by the court order is stopped.
He was said to have worked with some security agencies on this project. It was learnt that the former governor’s position has been that the nominee was not fit to handle such an office, considering the person’s alleged past records.



Apart from the former governor, some ministers are also fighting hard against some of the new nominees. One of them is actually insisting that the provisions of the NDDC Act must be followed, while the other holds the strong view that the board that was screened and cleared in 2019 must be inaugurated.
A certain high ranking senator from the south south is also a believer in this school of thought. He wants the board that was confirmed, whose members did not have question marks to be inaugurated.


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TNN learnt that some people in the NDDC are also fighting from another flank. The others are top shots in The Presidency who are said not to be comfortable with some of the reports against one of the nominees.
Shortly after the screening by the senate committee, Senator Seriake Dickson, a former governor of Bayelsa State had made his position known on the nominees.




He had told journalists that during the screening, he had “pointed out repeatedly the need for the appointing authority and those nominating and backing the candidates for the various positions on the NDDC board to respect the mandatory provisions of the NDDC Act particularly section 1, subsection 2 and Section 12 which requires that the chairman, managing director, executive directors and state representatives must be amongst other things, persons from an oil producing area.


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“This is to recognize the fact that historically, the reason for the creation of the NDDC and its provision made by the National Assembly was to address the agitations by oil producing communities who complained of infrastructural deficit and exclusion.
“So it is not enough for a nominee to be competent professionally or academically, this is one requirement. The second requirement is that the person must pass the test of indegeneship in the Act.




“I observed with dismay that a lot of Mr. President’s nominees in this list did not pass the indegeneship test though professionally competent and of reputable backgrounds.
“I made this point not in opposition to any candidate in particular but to them all so we don’t have a culture of disobedience of the NDDC Act, gradually leading to a total abandonment of the indegeneship principle. As it is, the NDDC Act is more adhered to in breach than in compliance.


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“All the same, I am in touch with the members of the committee and my position is that if we need to fast forward the screening and clearing of the nominees because government is winding down, let it be on a condition and a resolution should be sent to the President who is the appointing authority and as reference to future presidents underscoring the fact that they need to comply with the clear provisions of the Act with respect to indegeneship.




“I congratulate all the nominees who eventually may be recommended by the committee. In the case of Bayelsa, Mr. President has done well by nominating the MD designate Samuel Ogbuku from Bayelsa and the state representative Hon. Dimaro Denyabofa, who are both eminently qualified.


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I congratulate them and indeed all the members of the National Assembly from Bayelsa state are united and in support of the nomination of the MD designate and the State representative.
“We wish them the best of luck and I have advised that there should be broad consultation in determining the choice of projects and other policies. The Governors and all stakeholders should be consulted and the NDDC should focus on big ticket projects with the capacity to transform the Niger Delta and let go of petty projects.



“I also advised that the NDDC should cease to be a political cash cow for political leaders to control and feather their nests. Too much of this has happened already to the shame and disappointment of everyone in the Niger Delta and in the country.


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“I warned against friction between board and management which has impaired the normal working of previous boards and it is my hope that all political leaders who sponsored the nominees as well as those who appointed them, should give them room to consult stakeholders and identify priority projects that are beneficial to the various states and people in the Niger Delta working in tandem with the states, other agencies of the Federal Government and development partners to advance the course of development, peace and stability in the Niger Delta.”


It is not clear how the power play will take shape this week, especially as the senate sits to receive the report of the committee that screened the nominees.

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