By SUGARBOY DEBEKEME
In the wake of the rascality attending the altogether condemnable approach Niger Deltan Affairs Minister, Godswill Akpabio, has adopted in supposedly superintending the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, all manner of morally bankrupt and clearly intellectually handicapped interest groups have been angling to perform the highly unlikely miracle of reversing the nomination and confirmation of the new Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Board.
In the process, President Muhammadu Buhari has become a major casualty of their inanities, having been made to seem like a simpleton and quite lawless chief executive in his constitution of the NDDC board, instead of receiving well-deserved accolades for his due diligence and circumspection in assembling such an impressive team of achievers to man the commission.
The same pathologically greedy misfits who, hitherto had triumphalistically misled the Presidency into the utter foolhardiness of targeting and hunting Tompolo and his cohorts when they were quietly licking their wounds in the creeks, not causing any trouble to anyone, having resigned themselves to the exit of President Goodluck Jonathan from Aso Rock, are at it again striving desperately to sell the utter dummy that it is even conceivable that the Managing Directorship of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, could ever be moved from the core oil-producing states of Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers and Akwa-Ibom.
My projection is that just as that earlier miscalculation resulted in a complete misadventure which led to a dislocation of the national economy, the effects of which are still with us today, so also do their latest shenanigans promise nothing but trouble for our national welfare, going forward.
The NDDC, though an interventionist agency, was actually conceived and basically set up to operate in accordance with a rather business like corporate paradigm. Indeed, just as minority shareholders in any coporation cannot insist on headship of a body coporate as of right, fringe oil-producing states, all of which, put together, do not even produce as much as 10 percent of Nigeria’s total oil output, cannot consider themselves in any position or condition, for that matter, to call the shots in the NDDC!
One quite naive and rather clownish ignoramus of a lawmaker who happens to have been appointed Chair of the House of Representatives Committee on the Niger Delta apparently sees his role as rooting for Ondo State to produce the NDDC MD/CEO. That is certainly not going to happen now or anytime in the foreseeable future. Ondo State, for all its merits, remains a minor player in the oil and gas industry and woefully lacks the oil and gas credentials to rub shoulders with true giants like Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers or Akwa-Ibom.
Truth is, in the buildup to the establishment of the NDDC, the host communities of the core oil-producing states of Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers and Akwa-Ibom had actually insisted on the commission’s jurisdiction being restricted to the geographic Niger Delta which really is mostly confined to Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers and Akwa-Ibom, and, is actually quite different from the geo-political South-South which is now the political Niger Delta comprising the six states of Edo, Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa-Ibom and Cross River.
When Imo, Abia and Ondo were added to the tally, the political compromise reached to assuage the host communities was to the effect that 1.) as a matter of equity, the projects, by value, of the commission shall be allocated amongst beneficiary states as per quantum of oil production; and, 2.) that the top three executive positions of the commission shall rotate amongst the four core oil-producing states of Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers and Akwa-Ibom.
In order to give other beneficiary states a sense of belonging, only the post of Chairman, as titular head of the commission, though with much influence over its affairs, was conceeded to rotate amongst all beneficiary states, be they core or fringe oil producers, as a matter of equality, in alphabetical order.
As such, the NDDC was conceived and birthed upon a delicate balancing of equity against equality.
How the law ended up being drafted and passed with such wordings as to entice long-throated buffoons into insinuating therein, a free-for-all where even a shareholder with only 1 percent, or indeed less, of the equity in the going concern will take leave of his or her senses and disintegrate into such utter madness as to insist on being handed control over the entire enterprise must be yet another contribution of Nigerian democracy to highly unorthodox lawmaking!
Trust me, the people in the, mangrove swamps, rainforests and creeks of the Niger Delta are not interested in hearing from any greedy hunters from minor oil-producing states, who happen to be wearing wigs and gowns and heading to court with greed-infested motions, processes and applications whose outcomes, if not equitable, will only lead to disruptions in oil production and a drying up of the very oil money they are maniacally salivating to pounce upon!
Even if the Chairmanship of the commission had not been taken from Delta and given to Edo, that same Delta would still have gotten the Managing Directorship and Ondo or anywhere else outside the four core oil-producing states would simply have to make do with a Commissioner and wait for its turn to produce Chairman but never Managing Director or either of the Executive Directors for that matter!
In the present dispensation, the Managing Directorship has been domiciled in Delta where it now rotationally belongs within the cycle of four core oil-producing states and Deltans should be appreciated for gratuitously allowing Edo to take the Chairmanship.
There are far too many thieves in this country and especially so in the corridors of power, tirelessly and perennially looking for means of shortchanging their closest neighbours and even kith and kin as well. Whatever be the thieving disposition or avaricious machinations of any kleptomanic interest out there, for the avoidance of any doubt, neither the Managing Directorship or two Executive Directorships of the NDDC are transferable outside the four core oil-producing states of Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers and Akwa-Ibom.
If anyone doubts this, please let him be the guest of those long abandoned Niger Deltans who actually produce the oil and let him see if he does not only end up grounding our still dislocated national economy even worse than we witnessed in 2015/2016 all in furtherance of yet another typically revolting Nigerian scheme to reap where one has not sown.
It is conceivable that historically, what is now Delta State, has alone produced more than 40 percent of Nigeria’s total oil output since oil was first struck at Oloibiri in present day Bayelsa. Together, the four core oil-producing states of Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers and Akwa-Ibom have produced over 90 percent of our total oil output till date. If they will be denied the equitable privileges deriving therefrom, then surely, someone is seriously looking for even more serious trouble somewhere deep in the creeks of the Niger Delta!
As far as the oil-producing communities of the core oil-producing states of Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers and Akwa-Ibom are concerned, both the NDDC and Ministry of Niger Deltan Affairs are mere monuments to tokenism which insultingly represent peanuts from the wealth they contribute to the sustenance of the entirety of a most ungrateful nation.
The insults have gone far enough; taking it to the level of denying them any of the top executive positions on the NDDC board will amount to crossing a redline to the point of going way too far.
I have not been a supporter of this President from the beginning and indeed opposed him vociferously in the media when he allowed himself to be misguided into permitting the unwarranted onslaught against certain Ijaw communities and the likes of Tompolo in particular at the onset of his first term. It was wholly untenable for this was at a time at which they were not posing any threat to anyone and were barely recovering from the shock of the defeat of one of their own who had most graciously conceded defeat in a manner most uncharacteristic of the average Nigerian.
Over the years, I have learnt to live with the reality that for good or ill, this is my President and have even come to admire him to some extent.
The growing trend, amongst certain quite irritating persons (some of whom, surprisingly, are his own Ministers) of painting the President in the colours of a fool and seemingly not in control of his own administration while making him look stupid in the eyes of Nigerians, all of whom are is constituents, whether anyone likes it or not, is most unpalatable to some of us.
Contrary to what the political hustlers and their hired hacks would have us believe, the President did not come up with a stupid list in his nominations into the recently confirmed board of the NDDC. If nothing else, he executed a well-balanced masterstroke of executive recruitment attended by a quite commendable sense of political maturity. His conduct in drawing up his list did not expose incompetence but on the contrary, actually showcased political sagacity. His nominations are not in the least illegal; they are in fact, altogether equitable.
Mr. Debekeme, a commentator on national issues, wrote from Yenegoa.