MEMBERS of the All Progressive Congress, APC from Itsekiri and Isoko ethnic oil nationalities in Delta State are furious at the party’s nomination of Adjogbe Ajenakevwe, an Urhobo, as Executive Director Projects, EDP, on the board of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, and forwarding of his name to the Senate for confirmation by President Muhammadu Buhari.
While the Urhobo nationality is happy with the proposal, the Itsekiri ethnic group is spitting fire, saying it had not completed its tenure as EDP. The Isoko ethnic group disagreed that it was the turn of any other ethnic group to produce EDP, contending that President Buhari should reconsider his position and appoint an Isoko indigene to the position.
Tension is high in the state over the matter, as the governorship candidate of the party in the last election and leader of the party in the state, Olorogun O’tega Emerhor, has come under fire for his supposed role in the proposal.
Some angry Itsekiri APC members laid siege on Thursday to the Warri residence of a party faithful, threatening to raze his home for signing a newspaper publication purportedly against the position of the ethnic group.
Isoko Renaissance Group, which called on Buhari to redress the injustice, said: “We are aware that the name of an Isoko son was already earmarked and approved for the position of Executive Director, Projects by the Presidency.”
President-general of Emevor community, Mr. Moses Akpotabor, alleged, “Some greedy minded politicians bent on undermining the Isoko nation tried to use their propaganda machinery and other contacts to attempt to replace the name and at the same time scheming to give Isoko people the position of a Commissioner, which is almost part time.”
The group urged Buhari to “take a second look at the list being bandied around and correct the anomaly on the portfolios of those representing Delta state on the NDDC board because our fear is that some politicians must have joggled these positions in the dark to further their selfish interests.”
However, Dr Ogaga Ifowodo, an Isoko, was named as the Commissioner representing Delta state on the yet to be constituted board. Ifowodo contested the Isoko North/South Federal Constituency seat in the 2015 National Assembly elections.
Itsekiri accuses Emerhor
Itsekiri APC in a position paper by the Itsekiri Patriotic Alliance, IPA, addressed to Buhari, said the ethnic group has not served out its tenure as EDP occupied by Mr. Tuoyo Omatsuli, and an indigene should have been recommended.
In a statement by the national president, Erefoluwa Keka, the group said: “Sir, the entire Itsekiri nation, particularly those of us who are committed members of the All Progressives Congress, APC, are disappointed and piqued to say the least. This is because of the names sent to the Senate for ratification as members of the proposed Board of Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC.”
He said Itsekiri has it on good authority that Olorogun Emerhor allegedly hoodwinked the Minister of Transportation, Hon. Rotimi Amaechi into ‘illegitimately’ forwarding the name of Adjogbe Ajenakevwe, an Urhobo from Delta State, to occupy the position of Executive Director, Projects, EDP in the proposed Board to Buhari.
“With due respect Sir; we use the word ‘illegitimately’ because the Act establishing the NDDC is very clear on the issue of tenure-ship as it affects state/ethnic representation.
“Permit us to state the relevant section inter-alia, “Where a vacancy occurs in the membership of the Board, it shall be filled by the appointment of a successor to hold office for the remainder of the term of office of his predecessor. So, however, that the successor shall represent the same interest and shall be appointed by the President, Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces subject to the confirmation of the Senate in consultation with House of Representatives”.
“We made reference to the afore-stated section to further anchor our position because it appears Olorugun O’Tega Emerhor seeming disdain for Itsekiri ethnic nationality was taking too far this time around and it is capable of destroying the APC in Delta state,” he added.
Previous office holders
His words: “Your Excellency, in the light of the above, we are compelled at this juncture to mention that one of our own, Engr. Tuoyo Omatsuli occupied the position of Executive Director of Projects, EDP in the Board of NDDC for two years (December 2013 through December 2015) before Your Excellency dissolved the Board and appointed a Sole Administrator.”
“For the two years, Engr. Omatsuli held the position of EDP, his performance speaks volume until date and it was only normal for us, as Itsekiri , in line with the Act establishing NDDC to expect that an Itsekiri man should at-least be appointed to complete the remaining two years.
“The Itsekiri people will not be swayed by the arguments of a few selfish elements that this is a new government and things have changed when it comes to the existing working principles between ethnic Nationalities in Delta State in particular and the Niger Delta in general as it affects appointments in the NDDC Board.
“It may interest Your Excellency to know that when Engr. Godwin Omene, an Urhobo could not complete his 4-year tenure as Managing Director, MD of the NDDC Board, Senator Aguariavwodo Edesiri Emmanuel completed it. When Elder P.Z.Aginighan, an Ijaw was not opportune to complete his 4-year tenure as Executive Director, Finance and Administration, another Ijaw man, Lambert Kobonye did.
“The story was not any different when Elder Emmanuel Ogidi, an Isoko by tribe served as Commissioner representing Delta State on the Board, his brother Chief Solomon Ogba completed the tenure.
“It is, therefore, vexatious and insult on the sensibility of the Itsekiri people for Olorugun O’Tega Emerhor with the support of Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi to forward the name of Adjogbe Ajenakevwe, an Urhobo, to your exalted office to serve as the next EDP in NDDC. Especially when an astute Itsekiri professional held the position for only two years, as against the statutory four years,” the Itsekiri group said.
Buhari misled- Ukunbeyinje
Citing the phrase, ‘same interest’ in Section 3 (3) of the Act, a former member of the Delta State House of Assembly, Hon. Misan Ukunbeyinje, posited that, “the new nominee, who is to fill the vacancy created on the board, is supposed to present the same interest of the old member whose shoes he/she is stepping into.”
He said: “You can see that the President has been totally misled on this matter because the same interest as stated in the Act means the ethnic nationality of the initial member of the board. If the president was properly briefed on this, he won’t have made this mistake and whoever he consulted, misled him.”
Party, not I made nomination- Emerhor
However, Emerhor while denying any contempt against the Itsekiri, said: “Nominations were done by the party not me as an individual. They did it on a state basis.”
“The protest, I understand is by a few people, who are hiding their personal interest under ethnic cover. These people I understand tried to push, behind the back of the party for the return of the former EDP, but Mr. President settled for fresh faces for the commission.”
Speaking on the fate of members in the board, the Delta APC chieftain said: “From Akwa Ibom to Rivers to Delta, no removed person returned. In addition, an Ogoni person replaced an Ikwerre ED. In Akwa Ibom, the new MD, an Ibibio replaced an Eket man. We will reach out to these few individuals and get them back to support the party.
Emami blasts Emerhor
Top Itsekiri APC chieftain, Chief Ayiri Emami, told Saturday Vanguard that if Olorogun Emerhor claims that the party, not he did the nomination, then, he was not qualified to lead the party because he ought to have an unbiased understanding of the NDDC Act and interests of the various ethnic groups and how to manage them.