By Dickson Omobola
Itsekiri youths under the auspices of Itsekiri National Youths Council, INYC, have kicked against the composition of a new board of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, by the Federal Government, describing it as an attempt to subjugate the oil-bearing communities of Warri kingdom.
It also urged the Senate to suspend the screening of names submitted by President Muhammadu Buhari, saying it would mobilise protest against the development.
The President had, sent the list of NDDC board nominees to the Senate, last week, with Lauretta Onochie as Chairman.
But mixed reactions, especially from some Niger Delta groups have continued to trail the list sent by the President.
Opposing the composition of the new board, INYC in a statement by Messrs. Isaac Agbateyiniro and Appearance Afejuku, President and Secretary respectively, said the position of Chairman, Board of the NDDC “should be unconditionally given to the Itsekiri ethnic nationality “for the huge economic responsibility she is carrying for the Nigerian state.”
The statement reads: “For the sake of equity, justice and fair play, we urge the federal government to look into the Act establishing the NDDC, the rotational principles by alphabetical order of the oil-producing states and the principle of oil production quantum. This is also in agreement with the federal Character Act and No. 3 and 4 of article (14) of Chapter 2 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“Significantly, the principle of rotation by states in the NDDC has completed its first cycle where the Itsekiri ethnic nationality has been short-changed or overlooked severally.
“Curiously, for this second leg and the imminent inauguration of the new board, the Itsekiri ethnic nationality has once again raised their minority voices and taken their peaceful struggles to the doorsteps of all the relevant authorities in the country to be accorded their God-given rights and privileges as determined by the NDDC Act.
“We have stated for the umpteenth time that by divine providence, it is the turn of Delta State to produce both the Chairman and Managing Director of the NDDC and going by the provisions of all extant laws, the Itsekiri ethnic nationality by virtue of being the highest producer of crude oil and gas in Delta and Edo states and being the second highest producer of Oil and Gas in Nigeria deserves to be appropriately rewarded.
“The Itsekiri ethnic nationality also hosts the Bonga, Okan and other critical major oil fields in Nigeria like Egwa, Odidi, Jones creek, Escravos Beach, Yokri, Meji, Meren, Marun, Abiteye, Saghara, Dibi, Otumara, Ogidigben, Olero Creek, Opumami, Utonana, etc operated by Shell, Chevron, Seplat, consolidated Oil, Neconde and other multinational corporations contributing billions of Dollars to the Nigerian Federation.
An ethnic group can’t boast of these credentials and yet still overlooked during nomination or appointment to serve on the board of a critical agency such as the NDDC. This has been our agitation in recent appointments in the NDDC.
“Deriving our position from all extant laws guiding the oil industry, persons from Itsekiri (foremost oil and gas producing area in Delta state) should immediately be nominated on the list.
Specifically, the position of Chairman, Board of the NDDC zoned to Delta State should be unconditionally given to the Itsekiri ethnic nationality for the huge economic responsibility she is carrying for the Nigerian state.
“The senate should suspend the screening of all nominees on that list until the right thing is done. Accordingly, a congress of all Itsekiri youths from all oil and gas producing communities both in Delta and Edo states have been fixed as published in our circular dated 24/11/2022 to take immediate actions that will put an end to this unabated serial marginalisation of the Itsekiri Nation over this NDDC board composition and other areas of interest.”