Today, I joined other members of the joint committee of the National Assembly on Niger Delta to screen the President’s nominees for the board and management of the NDDC.
Though this is coming late, it is a good thing that the President finally sent in the list of nominees as required by the Act.
However, I pointed out repeatedly the need for the appointing authority and those nominating and backing the candidates for the various positions on the NDDC board to respect the mandatory provisions of the NDDC Act particularly section 1, subsection 2 and Section 12 which requires that the Chairman, Managing Director, Executive Directors and State representatives must be amongst other things, persons from an oil producing area.
This is to recognize the fact that historically, the reason for the creation of the NDDC and its provision made by the National Assembly was to address the agitations by oil-producing communities who complained of infrastructural deficit and exclusion.
So it is not enough for a nominee to be competent professionally or academically, this is one requirement. The second requirement is that the person must pass the test of indegeneship in the Act.
I observed with dismay that a lot of Mr. President’s nominees in this list did not pass the indegeneship test though professionally competent and of reputable backgrounds. I made this point not in opposition to any candidate in particular but to them all so we don’t have a culture of disobedience of the NDDC Act, gradually leading to a total abandonment of the indegeneship principle.
As it is, the NDDC Act is more adhered to in breach than in compliance.
All the same, I am in touch with the members of the committee and my position is that if we need to fast forward the screening and clearing of the nominees because the government is winding down, let it be on a condition and a resolution should be sent to the President who is the appointing authority and as a reference to future presidents underscoring the fact that they need to comply with the clear provisions of the Act with respect to indegeneship.
I congratulate all the nominees who eventually may be recommended by the committee.
In the case of Bayelsa, Mr. President has done well by nominating the MD designate Samuel Ogbuku from Bayelsa and the state representative Hon. Dimaro Denyabofa, who are both eminently qualified.
I congratulate them and indeed all the members of the National Assembly from Bayelsa state are united and in support of the nomination of the MD designate and the State representative.
We wish them the best of luck and I have advised that there should be broad consultation in determining the choice of projects and other policies. The Governors and all stakeholders should be consulted and the NDDC should focus on big ticket projects with the capacity to transform the Niger Delta and let go of petty projects. I also advised that the NDDC should cease to be a political cash cow for political leaders to control and feather their nests. Too much of this has happened already to the shame and disappointment of everyone in the Niger Delta and in the country.
I warned against friction between board and management which has impaired the normal working of previous boards and it is my hope that all political leaders who sponsored the nominees as well as those who appointed them, should give them room to consult stakeholders and identify priority projects that are beneficial to the various states and people in the Niger Delta working in tandem with the states, other agencies of the Federal Government and development partners to advance the course of development, peace and stability in the Niger Delta.
I wish them luck and an eventful term in office.