President Muhammadu Buhari is set to constitute the board of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, a source close to The Presidency and familiar with the development, has told The Neighbourhood.
At the moment, an Interim Management Committee, IMC, led by Prof. Kemebradikumo Daniel Pondei, as Ag. Managing Director, runs the multi-billion naira interventionist agency currently enmeshed in several corruption allegations.
The President, it was gathered, shall soon announce the dissolution of the IMC.
Others on the expanded IMC, which reports to the Honourable Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Dr. Godswill Akpabio, are Mr. Effiong Akwa, Ag. Executive Director, Finance and Administration, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh, Ag. Executive Director, Projects, and two Members, Mrs. Caroline Nagbo, and Mrs. Cecilia Bukola Akintomide.
However, the source declined to disclose whether President Buhari would make major changes to the list of nominees earlier sent to the senate for confirmation, or retain them.
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Buhari had in August, 2019 announced a controversial list of nominees which he later withdrew.
Those nominated were Dr. Pius Odubu(Edo), who was to serve as Chairman, Bernard O. Okumagba(Delta) as Managing Director, Engr. Otobong Ndem(Akwa Ibom), Executive Director Projects, and Maxwell Okoh(Bayelsa), nominated to serve as Executive Director Finance & Admin.
Others were Prophet Jones Erue(Delta), Delta Rep, Chief Victor Ekhatar(Edo), Edo Rep, Dr. Joi Yimebe Nunieh,(Rivers), Rivers Rep, Nwogu Nwogu(Abia), Abia Rep, Theodore A. Allison(Bayelsa), Bayelsa Rep, Victor Antai(Akwa Ibom), Akwa Ibom Rep, and Maurice Effiwatt, Cross River Rep.
Also on that ill-fated board-nominees were Olugbenga Elema(Ondo Rep), Hon. Uchegbu Chidiebere Kyrian(Imo Rep), Aisha Murtala Muhammed(Kano), Northwest Rep, Ardo Zubairu(Adamawa), Northeast Rep, and Engr. Badmus Mutalib(Lagos), Southwest Rep.
But President Buhari, in a volte face in December 2019, withdrew the list citing several petitions and court cases instituted against those nominations.
The reason given for the withdrawal, The Neighbourhood had gathered and reported, was for Buhari to comply with the NDDC Act which he was accused of not complying with.
The major infraction of the NDDC Act allegedly committed by Buhari was the nomination of Dr. Pius Odubu, from Edo State to serve as Chairman, and Bernard Okumagba from Delta as Managing Director.
Agitators of the infraction of the Act had argued that it explicitly stated that the office of the Chairman should rotate among member-states of the commission in an alphabetical order. By their argument, since the immediate past chairman of the Board, Senator Victor Idoma-Egba, hailed from Cross River State, it was mandatory for the Commission’s next Chairman to come from Delta State and not Edo State.
On the position of a Managing Director, they made a case that the NDDC Act stipulated that the persons must be indigenes of oil-producing areas, and the slot is to be occupied sequentially starting with member-states of the commission with the highest production quantum of Oil.
Based on available oil production records sourced from relevant regulatory agencies, including the Directorate of Petroleum Resources, DPR, they canvassed, Akwa Ibom State had the lead but had produced the Mr. Nsima Ekere, as substantive MD but in February, 2019 to contest the governorship of the state.
They further argued that by the production quota, and with Akwa Ibom State completing its turn, the position of the chairman ought to go to Delta State, which is the second-largest oil-producing, meaning that Rivers State ought to produce the next Managing Director being the third highest producer.