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EXCLUSIVE: Okumagba To Chair NDDC Board As MD Goes To Bayelsa

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Bernard Okumagba

… Traditional Rulers Write FG, Want Dimaro As MD

By Our Reporters

The Federal Government has reportedly constituted a new board for the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

Oasis Magazine (OM) reports that the members of the newly constituted board have been appointed into various offices in a bid to douse the threats and complaints from sons and daughters of the Niger Delta region.

The new board members amongst others include; Bernard Okumagba from Delta State as Chairman of the Board, Samuel Nduku from Bayelsa State as Managing Director, Effiong Okon Akwa who is the Sole Administrator as Executive Director Finance and Administration.

Despite revelations that the government has already constituted the board, Traditional rulers of oil host communities in Ekeremor Council of Bayelsa State have accused the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, of turning the state’s slots for federal appointments into his family business.

In a letter signed by paramount ruler of Koromotoru Kingdom, Perekebina Alfred, paramount ruler of Peretorugbene, Chief Alexander Daunemighan and seven other traditional rulers, they said although Ekeremor has more oil wells than Nembe, Sylva had sidelined them for his Nembe kinsmen.

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They urged the minister to support an Ekeremor indigene, Denyanbofa Dimaro, for the Managing Director of NDDC to balance the irregularities he had created.

They said Dimaro is a trusted All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftain and his emergence as MD of NDDC would open doors for more people to join the party and secure its victory in future elections.

“As Minister of Petroleum, Sylva controls the Nigerian Content Monitoring and Development Board (NCDMB), the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas with his kinsmen, Simbi Wabote and Edmund Daukoru, as Executive Secretary and Chairman and it will only be logical, if he supports our son to balance the equation.

“By his action, Bayelsa West Senatorial District, comprising Ekeremor and Sagbama councils are unfairly treated. Ekeremor Council is a major oil and gas producing area, besides giving substantial votes to the APC in the 2015 and 2019 elections that gave it victory,” the letter reads.

They solicited President Muhammadu Buhari’s assistance to consider appointing the substantive Managing Director of NDDC to someone from communities in Ekeremor Council, adding: “In our opinion, the polity and the region is already overheated and anything that will cause further agitations should be avoided.”

BESIDES, the Niger Delta Oil and Gas Producing Communities (NDOGPC) also accused Sylva of delaying the constitution of a substantive board of the NDDC.

In a statement issued by its National Coordinator, Chief Preye Olomu, the group stated that Sylva’s interest in nominating Maxwell Okoh from his Bayelsa East Senatorial District, which already has majority of the federal appointments, was causing disaffection in the Bayelsa West District.

It faulted the situation in which Bayelsa West had been shortchanged due to Sylva’s ethnic bias in spite of their commitment and contributions to the APC.

While commending the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio for his choice of an Ekeremor indigene from Peretorugbene in the person of Denyanbofa Dimaro for the Managing Director in the new board, Olomu hinted that Sylva had nominated other federal appointees without ceding any position to Bayelsa West District.

There has been tension between the Nigerian government, represented by the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, headed by Godswill Akpabio and foremost voices in the region, including ex-agitators.

Recently, Government Ekpemupolo (Tompolo) threatened the Nigerian government to constitute a new board or risk the return to hostilities in the region.

Some new board members according to sources came on the back of strong recommendations from top political influencers in the region.

The Niger Delta Youth Movement (NYM) had also given the federal government an ultimatum for the constitution of a new governing board for the commission.

They had said in a statement in April that; “If the Presidency refuses to inaugurate the legally-screened and cleared Governing Board of the NDDC within one month from today, April 28, the NDYM will mobilise all youth groups in the nine states of the Niger Delta, our affiliates, sympathisers, and partners in the region, to shut down the region.

“We shall make the Niger Delta region ungovernable if Mr President refuses to inaugurate the already screened and cleared Governing Board of the NDDC.”

Tompolo had also on the 31st of May given the federal government a deadline to constitute the new board. He had asked the Nigerian government to get a governing board in place before the 30th of June in a meeting with Akpabio and other Ijaw indigenes.

“The minister has made the outcome of the meeting known to the public. He promised profusely to start the process of the constitution and inauguration of the substantive board of the NDDC immediately and that he should be allowed to drive the process to an end on or before the end of June 2021,” he said after the meeting.

The former Commander of the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND) also added that; “As it stands now, I have accepted the outcome of the meeting reluctantly. It is pertinent to state at this juncture that I do not want anything to disrupt the relative peace we are enjoying in the region. It was on this premise that I accepted the outcome of the meeting.”

The Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) had also sought some speed from the federal government in constituting the new NDDC board as it said the region was threatened by a return to hostilities if the board doesn’t start work in earnest.

A forensic audit of the NDDC account had caused the delay in setting up the board, with various corruption scandals rocking the commission in recent time.

The NDDC had until now been governed by a Sole Administrator, Effiong Akwa.

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