From Tony John, Port Harcourt
The Watchdog for Progressive Ijaw (WPI) has appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure that only an independent-minded, firm and decisive individual with a track record in corporate governance is appointed as the next managing director of the wobbling Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
The group said in a statement in Port Harcourt on Monday that the mistakes of the past whereby considerations were given to political gains rather than competence must not be repeated in the appointment of the next helmsman for the commission.
The statement, signed by WPI National Coordinator, Lambart Olambo, urged the president to be personally involved in the appointment of the next managing director to stop the trend of playing politics with the fate of the people.
The group said that incessant unrest in the Niger Delta and youth militancy, which often resulted in avoidable bloodshed and destruction of property came from appointments of incompetent and untested people to manage the affairs of the commission.
Olambo observed that it would be a great disservice to the people of the region if President Buhari succumbed to pressure from selfish political leaders and appoint an individual, whose allegiance belongs to a politician instead of the Niger Delta as the NDDC boss.
He said the next NDDC managing director must be someone with an in-depth understanding of the challenges of development of the region and enjoyed the respect and acceptability of critical groups in the area, especially the Ijaw Youths Council (IYC).
The group insisted that such an appointee must be a bridge-builder, a development expert and an individual that would reach out to all the stakeholders in the region without political or ethnic considerations.
‘Our problem has always been allowing an individual or a group with selfish interest to recommend the appointment of the NDDC boss. In the time past, once any of such individuals emerged as the NDDC boss, they owed their allegiance to the politician or the group that recommended them,’ the group stated.
‘This trend started since the exit of the original appointees that set up, structured and managed the Commission. Members of that team owed their allegiance only to the Niger Delta people and the President who gave them the assignment. The Niger Delta Development Master Plan which they designed has since been abandoned.
‘Subsequently, appointees hand-picked by political leaders only did the bidding of a politician or group of politicians and in most cases allowed the NDDC to become a cash cow for their principals to actualise their political ambitions.
‘Resources that should have gone into developmental projects were diverted to fund elections that were of interest to their principals. In most cases, they awarded phoney contracts and paid the contractual sum without getting the jobs done, just to satisfy the greed of those who sponsored their appointments.
‘We are appealing to the President to change this narrative and turn around the NDDC for good. We are asking the President to use his experience and give us a sound, strong, firm and decisive NDDC boss, who understands our problems and is willing to work tirelessly to actualise the mandate of the NDDC.
‘Our position is that the next substantive managing director of NDDC should not be an appendage of any politician. It is time to toe a different path and we know that President Buhari is equal to the task.’