By Clifford Ndujihe
- Kennedy Emadamerho, chairman of Niger Delta Indigenes in Diaspora based in New England Region, United States of America, in this interview spoke on the controversies trailing President Muhammadu Buhari’s appointment Olorogun Bernard Okumagba as the Managing Director of NDDC Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, why critics should allow the appointee, who was cleared by the Senate, yesterday to roll out his plans, and why he must prove critics wrong by boosting development of the oil-rich region.
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His take on controversies trailing the appointment of Olorogun Okumagba as the MD of NDDC
Looking at the act that established NDDC, it is the turn of Delta State to produce the MD. President Buhari has done the right thing by appointing a great Deltan in the person of Olorogun Bernard Okumagba as the MD of NDDC.
Okumagba is very qualified to occupy the position because he is a renowned technocrat.
Okumagba is not just a Niger Delta indigene you pick because he is from the region. Okumagba was once a commissioner of Finance in Delta State during the administration of the former Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan.
Okumagba’s pedigree speaks for him and this is a son of a late technocrat, Chief Daniel Okumagba who was once chairman of Ajaokuta Steel. So all those who are complaining should not complain.
We (Niger Delta Indigenes in Diaspora) are in support of Okumagba’s appointment. Okumagba grew up from the place, he knows what the people are going through. He knows and feels the pains of the people and he is a young chap who will bring new ideas to the development of the Niger Delta area. Whether it is Itsekiri, Urhobo and Isoko, Okumagba cuts across tribes.
His advice to Okumagba as he resumes duty following Senate’s clearance
I will advice Okumagba to have a very broad mind to study what his predecessors did, look seriously into the mistakes they made, do his best and set an agenda for the next person that will take over from him. He shouldn’t just rush into action.
What do you think is the greatest problem confronting Niger Deltans today?
First and foremost, it is access to good roads. Also, it is access to good water supply because health is wealth. If you see some of the water that Niger Deltans drink, you will weep
Okumagba should think of roads, farm produce that will come to the town, drinking water for the populace and access to good health centres. Okumagba should also address the issue of insecurity.
If a man who is living in a riverine area has access to good roads, health care centres, and drinking water, what is he coming to do in Warri? Some of my friends live in their villages, when you visit them, they will tell you that they are more comfortable in the villages than the hustling and bustling in Warri that is too tight and crowded.
By the time these amenities are provided in these areas, you will see smile on the lips of Niger Deltans.
I will advice Okumagba to have another set of qualified engineers to quietly visit some of the projects executed by NDDC contractors and see if they are really competent enough. They (NDDC contractors) are just there to line their pockets and make the masses wallow in abject poverty and squalor.
Do you have any message for Buhari over Okumagba appointment?
I want to say a very big thank you to Buhari for taking the pains to look round and see somebody who is fit for the MD of NDDC. It is like putting a right peg in the right position.
All those who are just making noise should relax and see how Okumagba will come out with his plans. By the time they see what Okumagba will bring out they will be amazed.
Okumagba is a renowned technocrat and I am happy that with his age, he will do more than his predecessors.
Buhari reportedly said what is presently on ground in the Niger Delta region doesn’t justify the huge resources that have been made available to the commission thereby making him to order a forensic audit of the NDDC operations from 2001 to 2019. What is your reaction to this?
Buhari is on track to have openly sought or ordered the comprehensive audit of the NDDC.
One thing that you will understand about the setting up of the NDDC is the outcry of the people from that region.
After seeing the enormous resources that the region is bringing to the centre and nothing is going back to the same region, the Federal Government decided to set up the NDDC.
Based on the background of the people that have been running the commission right from the days of the Oil Minerals Producing Areas Development Commission, OMPADEC, till now that the name has been changed to NDDC, you will be surprised that most of the people appointed to oversee the affairs of the commission don’t have the desire of the people at heart.
The Niger Delta governors use the agency as a political pay-back. We have been crying that they should bring those who have run the NDDC to book.
Another issue is that 90 percent of them use their private business outfits to execute the jobs.
They make sure that the contracts are inflated and the funds are paid upfront.
To sanitize the NDDC, Buhari should really go out there and appoint people of good reputation like Ankio Briggs and Engr. Kingsley Oghoro that they can’t buy over to join the group of auditors that he wishes to appoint to audit the NDDC.