Controversy As Buhari Nominates Media Aide, Onochie NDDC Chair Outside Oil-bearing Areas

On-going Illegality In The NDDC : Why President Buhari And The APC Need To Act Now To Save The Niger Delta From Its Sorry State!

… In Parallel Nomination Against Senate Screened, Approved Board

  • N’Delta Groups Kick

The nomination of Ms. Lauretta Onochie, a Special Assistant on New Media to President Muhammadu Buhari as the Chairman of the board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) is beginning to elicit a wave of fresh controversies in the region.

The nomination of Onochie was conveyed in a letter issued by Buhari and addressed to the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan on Wednesday. However, the fresh nomination by the President spurned a board that had already been nominated and screened as well approved by the Senate in 2019.

Groups in the Niger Delta have flayed the nomination, saying it was in contrary to the NDDC Act which mandates that board members must come from the oil producing areas of the Niger Delta states.

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Reacting to Onochie’s nomination outside of the oil-bearing areas, Niger Delta Elders’ Forum (NDEF) again urged President Buhari to “comply with the law setting up NDDC and inaugurate the substantive board to manage the Commission for the benefit of the people of the nine Niger Delta states.”

The New Diplomat recalls President Buhari had already nominated a Board for the NDDC in October 2019 whose members were vetted by all relevant agencies of the federal government following which they were screened and confirmed by the Nigerian Senate on November 5, 2019.

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Buhari had in a letter dated 18th October, 2019 sought the Senate’s confirmation for Dr Pius Odubu (Edo) as chairman of the NDDC Board, Chief Bernard Okumagba (Delta) as Managing Director, Engr Otobong Ndem (Akwa Ibom) as Executive Director, Projects, and Maxwell Oko (Bayelsa) as Executive Director, Finance and Administration.

The NDEF statement signed by National President, Chief Tonye Ogbogbula reads “We therefore urge President Buhari to inaugurate the board and management of the Commission, in compliance with the law to ensure that the nine constituent states of the region will have fair and equitable representation in the Commission in line with the NDDC Act 2000 which brought the interventionist agency into existence and made it mandatory for the President to appoint a board and management for the Commission, subject to confirmation by the Senate.

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“The most salient issue that the authentic stakeholders of the Niger Delta has consistently demanded, and which the President also made commitments on is to inaugurate the Board of the Commission upon receipt of the forensic audit, in compliance with the law, and which commitment he made to the nation on June 24, 2021 when he received the leadership of Ijaw National Congress (INC) in Aso Rock, Abuja.”

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Meanwhile, in another parallel nomination as contained in the letter which was read at plenary on Wednesday, Buhari has also nominated 14 others as members of the Board to be chaired by Onochie.

The letter showed that the President nominated Chief Samuel Ogbokwu, who hails from Bayelsa State, as the Managing Director, who would serve for a term of two years, in order to complete the term of his predecessor in office.

Other members are, Dimgba Erugba, representing Abia State, Dr. Emem Willcox Wills ( Akwa Ibom), Elder Denyanbofa Dimaro (Bayelsa State), Hon. Orok Duke (Cross River) and Dr. Pius Odudu ( Edo State).

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They also included, Engineer Anthony Ekenne, (Imo State), Hon. Gbenga Edema (Ondo State), Elekwachi Dimkpa (Rivers State), Alhaji Mohammed Kabir Abubakar, ( Nasarawa State, representing North-Cenral zone), Alhaji  Sadiq Sami Sule – Ikoh ( Kebbi State, North-West) and Prof. Tahir Mamman SAN, (Adamawa State, North-East).

The President also nominated Major-General Charles Airhiavbere (rtd) from Edo State as the (Executive Director, Finance) and Charles Ogunmola, from Ondo State, as the Executive Director, Projects.

Part of the letter by President Buhari read:

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“Dear Distinguished Senate President, confirmation of appointments of Chairman and members of the Niger Delta Development Commission.

“In accordance with the provisions of Section 2(2) A of the NDDC Act, Cap N86, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004, I hereby present the underlisted 15 names of nominees as Chairman and members of the NDDC for confirmation by the Senate.

“Copies of their Curriculum Vitae are attached herewith:

“While I hope the request would receive the usual expeditious consideration, and confirmation of the Senate, Please accept the Distinguished Senate President, the assurances of my highest consideration.”

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