Posted by News Express | 2 August 2022 | 742 times
Top politicians from the Southsouth zone are intensifying their push for the control of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NNDC).
The NDDC is an agency saddled with interventionist projects for oil-producing areas.
Among the gladiators are two former ministers, Chief Godswill Akpabio, the immediate past Minister of the Niger Delta Affairs and Mr Rotimi Amaechi who until May this year, was Minister of Transport.
Also believed to be scheming for the control of the agency is Minister of State for Petroluem Resources, Mr Timipreye Sylva, and Deputy Senate President Ovie Omo-Agege.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) stalwarts are working round the clock to influence the appointment of the agency’s managing director as well as its finance director.
The agency has been run by an interim management board since 2019 and the gladiatora are backing different persons for the plum job.
Incidentally, Amaechi, who is strongly believed to have influenced the appointment of Umana Okon Umana as the new Niger Delta minister, is said to be using his closeness to President Muhammadu Buhari and an influential member of the “Villa cabal” to get his nominee from Rivers State appointed as Managing Director as “rehabilitation” for him after failing to clinch the APC presidential ticket. This is necessary “to keep and service his support base in Rivers State”.
Both Amaechi and Akpabio resigned their portfolios as ministers in April to contest the presidential ticket of the ruling party, but failed at the primary.
The latter’s subsequent bid to have the senatorial ticket for Akwa Ibom Northwest as a “consolation prize” is currently still hanging in the balance.
Already, the Council of Traditional Rulers in Bayelsa has declared that it is the turn of Bayelsa to produce the Managing Director.
Though sources close to Amaechi were very confident his candidate would emerge “because he has the President’s ears and those of the Villa cabal”, the sentiments against the former Rivers governor were that he had “monopolised the NDDC board since the inception of the Buhari administration”, having also handpicked the two immediate past substantive Managing Directors, Mrs. Ibim Semitari and Mr. Nsima Ekere, who was arrested in May by the Economic and Financial Crimes (EFCC) over an alleged N47b fraud in the NDDC.
Akpabio, on the other hand, is said to be rooting for Denyabofa Dimaro who also reportedly enjoys the backing of Umana. One of the odds against Dimaro, is that he is over 76 years old, and seen “as too old for the rigours of office and should be retiring by now”.
For almost three years that he served as minister, Akpabio was seen as having technically remote-controlled the agency through an Interim Management Board he hand-picked with a sweeping mandate to undertake a “forensic audit” of the agency from inception. Critics said it was an interminable gambit to short-circuit a statutory board required by law and perpetuate the aberration of a caretaker committee.
Ironically, Ms. Joy Nunieh, head of the caretaker panel appointed by Akpabio in 2019, later fell out with him.
Sylva’s move to install Maxwell Oko, his Bayelsa kinsman, is said to be facing strong resentment among stakeholders, who are accusing him of creeping “ nepotism”.
Apart from the fact that the recently appointed substantive Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), Simbi Kesiye Wabote, is said to be the minister’s cousin, the chairman of Nigeria Liquified Natural Gas (NLNG) board, Chief Edmund Daukoru, appointed in July 2020, is also widely known to be his mentor and was his boss during the Obasanjo administration.
Besides, Oko is battling with a petition written against him raising questions over his academic records.
On the other hand, Omo-Agege is said to be unrelenting in his bid to influence the emergence of Sam Mgbuku, despite the ongoing legal entanglement over “a serious case”.
In the face of mounting opposition to Oko, the Minister of State for Petroleum is believed to have worked out a Plan B by seeking an alliance with Omo-Agege, who hails from Delta State, such that Oko would be considered as Finance Director for the agency while Mgbuku would be Managing Director.
Speaking at a two-day management retreat organised by the Ministry of Niger Delta affairs last week in Abuja , President Buhari hinted that the NDDC board would be announced soon . He spoke in apparent response to agitations by stakeholders.
The leader of the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), Chief Edwin Clark, had expressed misgivings over speculations that the government may again extend the tenure of the Interim Committee of the NDDC.(The Nation)
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