Commuters along the East-West Road were stranded for hours yesterday as Ijaw youths protested the appointment of Mr Effiong Okon-Awka as sole administrator of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
President Muhammadu Buhari announced Okon-Awka’s appointment last week, but the announcement did not go down with the Ijaw youths who demanded that a substantive management board be put in place at the NDDC instead.
Until his appointment as Sole Administrator, Okon-Akwa, a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants and a Solicitor at the Supreme Court of Nigeria, was the Acting Executive Director, Finance and Administration at the Commission.
The protest was led by Ebilade Ekerefe, spokesman of the Ijaw Youth Council and Inodu Clever¸ treasurer.
“We say no to the appointment of a Sole Administrator. Sole administrator is alien to the NDDC Act,’’ Ebilade said.
Meanwhile, the Niger Delta Renaissance Coalition has challenged Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, over the legality of having a sole administrator in the Commission.
Reacting to Akpabio’s position that it was legal to have a sole administrator at NDDC, the group said a position not provided for in the NDDC Establishment Act is illegal.
“Specifically, the NDDC Act of 2000, as amended, only provides for a Governing Board to manage the affairs of the Commission. As has been tested in the court, on which basis the Interim Management Committee was recently disbanded, it is established fact that the interim managements so favoured by Akpabio are illegal and expose the actions of the NDDC to legal challenges if not now, in the future,” it said in a statement by its National Chairman, Comrade Damian Nwikinaka.
The group said Akpabio’s interest is not in obedience to the law, but exploiting the apparent disinterest of President Muhammadu Buhari in the NDDC and the Niger Delta to implement his agenda.
The Niger Delta Renaissance Coalition said there is no basis to compare interim or sole administrators to a Governing Board duly nominated by the President and confirmed by the National Assembly, “who provide checks and balances among and between themselves to ensure accountability, equity and fairness.”
It said that Akpabio exposed his ignorance of both the history and workings of the NDDC when he “claimed erroneously that sole administrators have been appointed for the Commission since its establishment. This is not true…The executive director he referred is Mr Timi Alaibe, who acted as MD when the pioneer MD in the person of Engr Godwin Omene resigned in 2003. Alaibe being the next senior executive director in that board acted as MD. That of Mrs Enyia Akwagaga in August 2019 followed due process, which provides that the most senior civil servant in the Commission takes over as acting MD in the absence of a duly constituted board.”