Let me start this Part Two of my article under this subject today, Sunday, by thanking God for the appointment of an Akwa Ibom indigene, Obong Nsima Ekere as the MD/CEO of the NDDC. This commission under Ekere I can aver is truly doing the bidding of Akwa Ibom people. Yesterday, the critics of the commission must have been taken aback when the commission unannounced, donated a 500KVA Generator to Ibom Specialist Hospital in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.
This all important “first in West Africa” world class Hospital has been in blackout for 2 months without the state government intervening to rescue the situation. The donation was made by the MD/CEO of NDDC, Mr Nsima Ekere on behalf of the Commission. If Ekere were to act based on the unnecessary media distraction coming from the state, would he have done that? No! This shows a focus and determined leadership of NDDC. The commission has touched my heart with this particular gesture.
It is exactly one week today, when I wrote the part one of this article. Expectedly, I have read a lot of diatribes and name callings as reactions from the attack dogs of the state government. They rather poured venoms on my person instead of tackling issues raised in my piece. They went amok chasing shadows. Of course, I would have been disappointed if anything less came out from the over 500 media jobbers with lack of professional training. A governor’s media team that lacks focus and direction, working at cross purposes. We will have a day to dwell on the activities of these media hackers.
Like I opined in my early piece, NDDC is set out to develop the 9 recognised oil producing states. Or simply put; it is a development partner for Akwa Ibom and 8 other states in the Nigerian state.
The sponsored media attacks on Ekere and the NDDC, one could trace back to July 20, 2016, when President Muhammadu Buhari forwarded the name of the former Akwa Ibom deputy governor (Mr Nsima Ekere) as an Akwa Ibom son from Ikot Abasi LGA, to the Nigerian Senate for confirmation as the MD of the commission to replace Mrs Ibim Semenitari – a Rivers state indigene, who had occupied the office unconstitutionally on acting capacity, after President Buhari removed Barr Bassey Dan Abia Snr., an Akwa Ibom indigene from Esit Eket.
For the sake of this discourse, Section 3 (1) of the NDDC (establishment, etc.) Act 2000, states: “Subject to the provisions of Section 4 of this Act a member of the Board, other than an ex-officio member, shall hold office for a term of 4 years at the first instance and may be re-appointed for a further term of 4 years and no more.”
It is, however, on record, that since the commission was established in 2000 by the former President Olusegun Obasanjo administration to tackle ecological problems arising from exploration of oil minerals in the Niger-Delta region and for connected purposes, Akwa Ibom State has not had a chance to produce the MD of the commission; save for the appointment of Mr Bassey Dan Abia by former President Goodluck Jonathan in 2013 and whose remaining tenure Mr Ekere is serving.
Invariably this means that, out of 17 years of the commission’s existence, Akwa Ibom State has only served 3 years including Mr Ekere’s current 6 months of service.
Statutorily, the MDship is occupied by a member state, out of the 9 recognised crude oil producing states in the country, based on the highest number of crude oil production by the occupying state, as maybe determined by the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), a subsidiary of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
This is clearly stated in Section 12 (1) of the NDDC (establishment, etc.) Act 2000, which states; “There shall be for the Commission, a Managing Director, and two Executive Directors who shall be indigenes of oil producing areas starting with the member states of the Commission with the highest production quantum of oil and shall rotate amongst member states in the order of production.”
This should have raised serious concerns in the minds of Akwa Ibom people to see the appointment of an Akwa Ibom son as the MD of the commission, as one of God’s blessings to the state, rather than a curse, as currently being painted by agents of the state government.
We seem to forget that NDDC is a federal government agency that does not report to the state government but to the federal government, thus cannot be questioned by a state government. The state can only raise observation(s) to the appropriate federal government agency, in this case, the Niger Delta Affairs Ministry, which is the supervising ministry. Than embarking on destructive media campaigns against the MD of the commission.
Get me right, I am totally against the commission’s contractors doing shady jobs or abandoning their projects halfway. But, it will at the same time, be unfair and a travesty of justice, for anyone in Akwa Ibom or Niger Delta region to attempt to heap the failure of the past 17 years of the commission on the current leadership of Nsima Ekere simply because he hails from a state perpetually at war against itself.
Very recently, the Minister of the Niger Delta Affairs Ministry, carried out a tour of the 9 member states of the commission to inspect the commission’s projects. It is sad to note that the minister had to issue a press statement dismissing media reports that misrepresented his project inspection in Akwa Ibom out of the 9 oil producing states he had visited.
What a shame! Why must it be only Akwa Ibom state, even with the MD of the commission? Why should the state claimed that the Minister had blamed the 17 years abandoned NDDC projects on the current leadership of Mr Ekere? Hmmm! Does this not cast an image problem for the state? I leave you to ponder over it, while I go to church.
I have also read some media reports linking Mr Nsima Ekere to 2019 governorship election in the state. If these attacks are politically motivated, then, I wonder who is deceiving my governor that if Ekere is sacked from the NDDC board, his (Ekere’s) 2019 ambition, IF ANY (with emphasis), would be dropped!?
Finally, I must commend the Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Charles Udo, for being bold enough to admit on a live radio programme in Uyo, yesterday, that NNPC/ExxonMobil contributed N8b in 2013 for the construction of the Eket-Ibeno road project contrary to denial by officials of the Udom’s government.
The controversy has been laid to rest. Let the government appreciate the efforts of other development partners and acknowledge their contributions to the development of the state.
Let NDDC be! Let NNPC! Let ExxonMobil be! We need them now then ever!
My humble advice though!
• Franklyn Isong is a public affairs commentator