By Dayo Johnson
THE Niger-Delta Development Commission, NDDC, was established 18 years ago with the sole mandate of developing the oil-rich Niger-Delta region of Nigeria.
Its mission is to facilitate the rapid, even and sustainable development of the Niger-Delta into a region that is economically prosperous, socially stable, ecologically regenerative and politically peaceful.
The interventionist agency is also to ensure that top management offices in the commission are shared among the beneficiary states.
Findings showed that the major challenge that is, however, facing the commission now is the lopsidedness in the appointment of the top management positions of the commission.
Reports showed that four states, namely: Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta and Rivers, out of the nine states have been rotating the three positions among themselves.
Findings indicated that five states (Ondo, Edo, Imo, Abia and Cross River) have been sidelined in the last 18 years.
Consequently, stakeholders from the oil-producing communities in Ondo State have cried out over alleged unfair distribution of posts in the commission.
They complained over the monopoly of the three top management positions within the commission and called on the Federal Government to intervene and correct the inequality.
Spokesperson of the communities, Comrade Alex Kalejaye, listed the three positions to include Managing Director, Executive Director (Finance and Adminstration) and Executive Director (Projects).
Kalejaye said that the development has been causing sharp division between member states of the oil-producing area.
He explained that “Akwa Ibom has held the positions of Managing Director and Executive Director (Projects) for two terms while Bayelsa has held the positions of Managing Director and Executive Director (Finance and Adminstration).
“Delta State has held the position of Managing Director, Executive Director (Finance and Administration) and Executive Director (Projects) and Rivers has also held all the three positions.”
He said that “it is sad that states like Ondo, Edo, Imo, Abia and Cross River have not tasted any of the positions since its creation 17 years ago.
“This negates the Act which established the commission which stated that the Managing Director and the two Executive Directors should be rotated among member states,” he said.
Quoting section 12 (1) of the NDDC Act, he said: “there shall be for the commission, a Managing Director and two Executive Directors who shall be indigenes of the Oil-Producing Areas, starting with the member state commission with the highest production quantum of oil, and shall rotate amongst member- states in order of production.”
Kalejaye noted that “there is equality of states as regards the sharing of these three top management members of NDDC.
“This is so because Ondo State is the fifth highest oil-producing state in the NDDC and a fortiori in Nigeria.
“Since all the states that have higher production of oil than Ondo State have produced the Managing Director at one time or the other, it follows that by provision of section 12(1) supra, Ondo State must of necessity produce the managing director for the next board to be constituted. This is the way it should go if inequality in the NDDC is to be corrected.
He, however, called the Federal Government’s attention to the marginalisation of the five states, urging the Federal Government not “to give in to this surreptitious manipulation and modification of the NDDC Act.”
While some states may have higher production quantum, this does not in any way imply that the right due to the other states must be trampled upon.”
He said that there should be equality of states in the sharing of the three top management positions in the commission.
“The positions of the Chairman, Managing Director, Executive Director (Finance and Admin) and Executive Director (Projects), as stated under this law, are meant to be rotational amongst member-states of the commission.
“While that of the Chairman is to be alphabetically rotated, those of the Managing Director, Executive Director (Finance & Admin) and Executive Director (Projects) are to be rotated in order of production.
“There is nothing in the NDDC Act, 2000 that provides “special attention” for the “four big states.” The phrase “four big states” is the invention of some cabals in the NDDC to oppress the other five states. The Federal Government should not give in to this surreptitious manipulation/ “modification” of the NDDC Act.
“None of the states in the NDDC is inferior to the other states. While some states may have higher production quantum, this does not in any way imply that the rights due to the other states must be trampled upon.
“There is equality of states as regards the sharing of these three top management members of the NDDC.
“As at now, it is the turn of Ondo State to produce the next Managing Director of the NDDC. This is so because Ondo State is the 5th highest oil- producing state in NDDC and a fortiori in Nigeria.”
Meanwhile, the stakeholders have called on the state governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, to intervene before the inequality in the commission escalates into crisis among the states.
In a letter addressed to the governor and signed by Ayenuberu Eganosi, they said the tenure of the Ndoma Egba-led board ended in December last year.
Eganosi pointed out that “if government is desirous that the current board should continue in office after the expiration of their tenure in December 2017, government can only do this by re-presenting their names to the National Assembly for confirmation and not through the back door extension.
“To extend the tenure of the current Executives of the board would be to deprive Delta State of its slot of producing the Chairman and dislodge Ondo State of its rightful position to produce the next Managing Director.”