A civil society group, Niger Delta Integrity Group (NDIG), has taken a swipe at Niger Delta activist, Chief Rita Lori-Ogbebor, for claiming that the Senate-confirmed board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) had earlier been dissolved.
In a statement signed by its President, Akpoebide Okotiene and Secretary, Edet Ekpenyong, NDIG said Ogbebor’s claim was a desperate agenda to misinform the the public.
The group said the NDDC board was appointed by President Buhari in October 2019 and confirmed by the Senate on November 5 2019 and is currently awaiting inauguration.
It said there was no court case instituted against its inauguration.
According to the group, “the fact of the matter is that there was neither a dissolution of the Senate-confirmed NDDC board, nor was there a court order or judgement anywhere against its inauguration. What happened in the case of the NDDC Governing Board, which was appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari in October 2019 is that after the appointees were vetted by all relevant agencies of the federal government, screened and confirmed by the Nigerian Senate on the 5th of November 2019, Mr President asked that the inauguration of the Board should be put on hold pending the completion of the forensic audit, for which an Interim Management Committee was appointed for the NDDC.”
NDIG further stated that the Federal Government had announced during the inauguration ceremony of the IMC in November 2019 that the Senate-confirmed NDDC Board will be inaugurated after the forensic audit. The decision to step down the inauguration of the Senate confirmed board was not due to any court case. There was no dissolution of the Senate confirmed board as it had not been inaugurated, and was therefore not disbanded.
On the issue of representation on the board of NDDC, the group asserts: “Rita Lori-Ogbebor is labouring and propagating the exclusion of legally qualified Deltans from the NDDC Board by proposing that any appointment into the leadership of the NDDC Board should only come from her Itsekiri tribe.”
It emphasized that the NDDC Act does not recognize ethnicity as a basis for appointing its board because to project ethnicity is a call to disharmony and anarchy, noting that the makers of the NDDC Act in their wisdom clearly avoided this path which can only lead to conflicts and hate in the States of the Niger Delta Region.
Said NDIG, “The NDDC Act, which is the law that governs appointments into the NDDC Board, in Part 1, Section 2(1) B only requires a member of the NDDC Governing Board to come from an “Oil Producing Area”. An area is a definite geographical space bound by its recognition in the constitution as an administrative space. Thus, an area can be a state, a local government area or a senatorial district. In the context of the NDDC act, an oil producing area is coterminous with an oil producing local government area. All indigenes of Oil Producing Local Government Areas in the Niger Delta States are eligible.”
NDIG urged President Buhari “to keep his promise to inaugurate the NDDC Board without further delay to ensure fair representation of the nine constituent states, accountability in the utilisation of the NDDC funds, checks and balances and due process in the Commission in compliance with the NDDC Act.”