Barely four days after sacking its last board members, the Federal Government is considering returning the Niger Delta Development Commission to a holistic development agency to be manned by core professionals rather than politicians to be able to transform the Niger Delta region.
The Presidency at the weekend relieved Dr. Henry Ogiri, Executive Director Finance, and Tuoyo Omatsuli, Executive Director Projects of the NDDC of their appointments, paving the way for the newly-appointed Sole Administrator/Acting Managing Director, Mrs. Ibim Semenitari, to run the agency alone in the interim.
The unceremonious removal of the two men, who were seen as indispensible following their retention when the Managing Director, Mr. Bassey Dan-Abia, was removed two weeks ago, completes the sack of the board, which was empanelled by President Goodluck Jonathan in December 2013.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir David Lawal, whose office supervises the commission, confirmed in a telephone chat with our source that the Federal Government would beam its searchlight on the activities of the commission in its bid to make it serve the needs of the region better.
Describing the NDDC as being in bad shape, Lawal, lamented that the debt profile of the agency, which had not done much to transform the Niger Delta since its inception, had risen to N300 billion due to many contracts yet to be completed in most cases.
Lawal regretted that the organisation had lost its focus of serving primarily as a strategic development vehicle and served more as a political organisation, thereby denying the people of the area the real benefits for which it was set up.
The SGF said: “We have to reorganise the NDDC to serve as a strategic development organisation to be able to address the peculiar needs of the region and its people.
“As part of the re-organisation, we are going to beam our searchlight on the commission’s activities and see how best to reposition the agency for better performance. We will do whatever is necessary to put the NDDC in a better shape for the overall development of the area.
“I can tell you that the Federal Government is very sympathetic to the Niger Delta because of its peculiar terrain and we need to take urgent steps to put things right in the place,” the SGF said.
On why it took some time before the NDDC management was sacked, the SFG explained that the government needed to study the situation in the commission before wielding its axe against the officials.
“We needed to study the place before taking action,” he said.
On the complaints by some of the nine states that they had been marginalised by the sacking of their natives on the board and the appointment of a sole administrator, the SGF said the action was a temporary one and assured that none of the states would be short-changed.
Lawal said: “I want to assure all the nine states that nobody will be short-changed in the composition of the board and management of the NDDC. The right thing will be done by putting the right people in place in accordance with the Act setting up the commission.