Adetutu Folasade-Koyi, Abuja
The Western Ijaw Consultative Assembly (WICA) has rejected President Muhammadu Buhari’s Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) managing director-nominee from Delta State.
In a petition to the president and the National Assembly, signed by Chief Ebipade Gbegha and Ogbein Zidideke, WICA chairman and secretary, respectively, the group, at a press conference in Abuja, yesterday, demanded that the managing director position should be given to its ethnic stock because they are the largest oil-producing ehtinc stock in Delta.
Besides, WICA hinged its demand on the NDDC Act of 2000, section 12 (1), which states that ‘there shall be for the Commission, a Managing Director, and two Executive Directors who shall be indigenes of oil-producing areas starting with the member states of the Commission with the highest production quantum of oil and shall rotate amongst member states in the order of production.’
WICA said: “The Ijaw in Delta state wish to notify President Muhammadu Buhari and the National Assembly that the nomination of Bernard Okumagba, of Urhobo extraction, in Delta, as the managing director in the new NDDC board, instead of an Ijaw nominee from the state, is totally unacceptable. This is because it is a clear case of oppression, injustice and alienation of Ijaw in Delta State.
“We state without fear of equivocation that any executive position slot for Delta state should be given to Ijaw, as it is our turn, in line with the rotational arrangement as prescribed by the NDDC Act…
“The Ijaw riverside communities are the highest producers of oil and gas in the region, and, by implication, the highest revenue generators in Nigeria. We also bear the brunt of the pollution, degradation and environmental impacts of oil and gas exploration, production and transportation …
“In the first NDDC board (2000 – 2004) that had Prof. V.F Peretomode (Ijaw) as the state rep, Godwin Omene (Urhobo) was the MD. Godwin Omene (Urhobo) was later replaced in 2002 with Emmanuel Agwariavwodo (Urhobo) in the first board. Emmanuel Agwariavwodo (Urhobo) was however, reappointed in the second board (2005 – 2008) as the MD while Chief Emmanuel Ogidi (Isoko) served as the state rep. Agwariavwodo (Urhobo) resigned to contest the Delta state gubernatorial election, and this made Timi Alaibe (Bayesla), the then EDFA to step in as the acting MD and Pastor P.Z Aginighan (Ijaw) the then Director of Finance and Supplies step in as acting EDFA respectively. In the third board (2009 – 2011), Chibuzor Ugwocha (Rivers) was the MD and Pastor P.Z Agnighan (Ijaw) was confirmed as substantive EDFA with Chief Solomon Ogba (Isoko) as the state representative.
“The board was sacked midway into its tenure and people from same state were appointed to continue the third board with same rotational arrangement from 2011 – 2012. In the reconstituted board, Konboye Lambert, an Ijaw, served as the EDFA, while Chief Solomon Ogba (Isoko) was retained as the state rep. In the fourth board (2013 – 2015), Tuoyo Omatsuli (Itsekiri) was the EDP while Chief Tom Amioku (Urhobo) was the state rep. The fourth board was reconstituted in 2015 and it had Samuel Adjogbe (Urhobo) as the EDP and Ogaga Ofowodo (Isoko) as the state rep. The fifth board, which is this current nomination, that the Ijaws in Delta state are rejecting in its entirety, has Prophet Jones Erue (Isoko) as the state rep and Bernard Okumagba (Urhobo) as the MD. From the foregoing, it is crystal clear that the Ijaw in Delta state have been undermined and are deliberately being schemed out of the NDDC equation.”