By Charles Kumolu & Precious Nwokocha
Rights activist, Chief Rita Lori-Ogbebor, has faulted what she termed the sidelining of Itsekiri ethnic group in the appointment of Managing Director of Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, and Chairman of the board of the commission, describing the action as against the Act establishing the NDDC.
She explained that the Managing Director designate, Mr Bernard Okumagba is not from an oil and gas producing community, noting that the Itsekiri as the highest oil-producing community in Delta State deserved the appointment.
Briefing newsmen yesterday in Lagos, Lori-Ogbebor, who read a protest letter to President Muhammadu Buhari, called on him to cancel the recent appointments.
She said: “Our protest is based on the non-compliance with the NDDC Act, lack of equity, fairness, and justice. We know that you stand for these same values. It is also important that you address this continuing and odious impunity being undertaken by some persons acting for and on behalf of the Nigerian state to deprive us of our rightful dues.
“The NDDC law takes cognisance of the oil and gas producing communities in appointments into its board and staffing. Indeed, one provision of the law for appointment into the office of the chairman is that the candidate must come from an oil and gas producing state in alphabetical order.
“Assuming that the appointment of a Chairman from Edo State was necessitated by an appointment of Managing Director from Delta State, why should the proposed candidate be Okumagba, who does not hail from an oil and gas producing community?
“Agreed, the present Managing Director designate, Okumagba is from Okere-Urhobo in Warri South Local Government Area, Delta State. He is not from an oil and gas community or even from an “impacted” community as defined by our laws and practices.
“Somebody who is not from the oil and gas producing communities cannot know or feel the pains of the people and therefore, cannot solve their problems.
“Our one and only NDDC Executive Director, Omatsuli Tuoyo, served for two years instead of a four-year term because the board to which he belonged was dissolved by the current administration.”
We demand that the recent appointments are cancelled and a new appointment in accordance with the rule of law, equity and justice be made.”