From Joe Effiong, Uyo
Community Watch of Nigeria (CWN) has threatened to drag the Presidency to court for redress if a native of Eket LGA of Akwa Ibom State is not included on the next Board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
In a letter signed by its international president, Chief Samingo Etukakpan, the NGO maintained that since the creation of NDDC in 2000, Eket as an oil-producing community in Akwa Ibom State, has been deliberately left out of board appointments, a situation which it says violates the law establishing it.
The group said that in 2019, the unconstituted Board of NDDC, which list was forwarded to the National Assembly by Mr President and was hurriedly cleared, erroneously gave the position of Chairman of the Board to Edo State instead of Delta State.
“The Act stipulates that the Chairman of the Board must rotate among the nine oil-producing states through alphabetical order.
“This was one of the reasons we went to Abuja High Court to challenge the President for arbitration of the law establishing the Board, and based on the legal advice of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, to Mr President, the Board was not constituted.
“The position of Managing Director, Executive Director Finance and Administration, and Executive Director Project must rotate among the highest quantum of oil producers.
“Ibeno is rated as being number one, Eket comes second, Esit Eket comes third while Onna local government area comes forth”, it stated.
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CWN stressed that the sister LGAs like Ibeno “has produced Executive Director four times; Esit Eket has also produced three Commissioners, Chairman of the Board and Managing Director respectively while Onna has produced Executive Director Project and a Commissioner with Eket not given any position in the Board since its inception.”
“Akwa Ibom State has gotten Executive Director Project five times but has not gotten the position of Director Finance and Administration which the NDDC Act stipulates that the position of MD, EDFA, and EP must rotate among the highest quantum of Oil producers.
“In the composition of the next Board of the Commission, we demand that the position of Executive Director Finance and Administration must come to Akwa Ibom State and zero down to Eket Local Government Area in particular as the second largest oil producing Community in the State”, the letter stated.
The group pointed out that the law establishing NDDC does not give room for interim management as currently constituted, and “the present interim management of NDDC is illegal and should be disbanded.”
They called on President Muhammadu Buhari and the newly appointed Minister of the Niger Delta Affairs, Obong Umana Okon Umana, right the wrongs that have been perpetrated against Eket Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State in the appointment of members of the NDDC Board, since its inception.
“We will not hesitate to approach the court for gross marginalisation if Eket is not given its fair share in the next formation, which must be done immediately, having condoned an Illegality, in the name of interim, for so long”, the group warned.