A national officer of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr. Yekini Nabena, has petitioned President Muhammadu Buhari to redress the injustice and illegality regarding the subsistence of the current Board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC). In an open letter to the president dated February 26, 2018, Nabena, who is a National Ex-Officio Member of APC from Bayelsa State, said the tenure of the Board formally ended last December and its continued stay was like allowing illegitimacy to run riot.
Nabena said the tenures of the NDDC managing director/chief executive, Nsima Udo Ekere, and chairman of the commission’s Board, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba, expired since last year, judging by the terms of their appointment and the law establishing NDDC, which explicitly stated that they were to complete their respective state’s tenure. While Ndoma-Egba was appointed to serve out the tenure of fellow Cross River State indigene, Senator Bassey Ewa-Henshaw, Ekere was chosen to complete the tenure of fellow Akwa Ibom citizen, Mr Bassey Dan-Abia, Nabena stated. Ewa-Henshaw and Dan-Abia were inaugurated in 2013 for a four-year term that ought to have ended last December.
The APC leader said Ndoma-Egba and Ekere’s continued stay in office was fraudulent and a demonstration of contempt for the law. He alleged that Bayelsa State, to which the board chairmanship post ought to have reverted, and other NDDC states were being short-changed under the current situation.
He also lambasted the managing director and the chairman for allegedly applying manipulative schemes to try to change the rules to give themselves more time in office. “The resort to sit-tight, crude propaganda and manipulation does not only display an arrogant contempt for the law guiding the Commission, but it also offends basic decency and public morality,” he stated, stressing, “In fact, it amounts to administrative fraud. Any further day the board exists is tantamount to allowing wilful iniquity and illegality to run riot. Moreover, the fact that they have been paying themselves all manner of allowances even after the expiration of their legal tenure is criminal.”
Nabena urged Buhari to quickly redress the anomalous situation by disbanding the NDDC Board and reconstituting it based on fairness in order to restore sanity to the commission’s leadership and save the image of his government and its campaign to bring about change.
The full text of the open letter dated February 26, 2018, reads:
“Dear Mr President, Sir
This is to humbly express my grave concern over the anomaly existing in the tenancy of the posts of Managing Director and Chief Executive of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) as well as Chairman of the Commission’s Board. I have followed this case since late last year, when the tenure of the Managing Director and the Chairman officially ended and now feel constrained to write you, Mr. President, to highlight the aberration that abounds in their continued stay in office.
The tenure of Nsima Udo Ekere as Managing Director and Chief Executive of NDDC has since elapsed. This is according to his letter of appointment from the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, dated November 1, 2016, with Ref. No: SGF.55/S.2/C.3/IV/52, which was signed by the then SGF, Babachir David Lawal.
The letter reads in part, “The appointment took effect from November 1, 2016 and you are to serve out the remainder of the term of office of your predecessor in line with Section 5(2) of the Act.”
Ekere, from Akwa Ibom State, was appointed to serve out the tenure of fellow Akwa Ibomite, Mr Bassey Dan-Abia, who was removed following the dissolution of the NDDC Board by Mr. President in 2015.
Similarly, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba, from Cross River State, was appointed Chairman of the NDDC Board to complete the tenure of Senator Bassey Ewa-Henshaw, who is from the same state. Ewa-Henshaw had been appointed for a statutory four-year tenure, which ran from December 16, 2013 to December 15, 2017.
The Act establishing the NDDC provides for a rotation of its leadership among the nine NDDC states of Rivers, Bayelsa, Delta, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Edo, Abia, Imo, and Ondo. In line with the law, states that produced officers of the dissolved board retained the slots, for the purpose of completing their tenures and maintaining equity in the leadership of NDDC.
Mr. President, I wish to humbly point out that the headship of the NDDC Board ought to revert to my home state of Bayelsa, after Cross River, going by the existing statutory arrangement. Following the expiration of its tenure, the Ndoma-Egba Board ought to have left without much ado. The resort to sit-tight, crude propaganda and manipulation does not only display an arrogant contempt for the law guiding the Commission, but it also offends basic decency and public morality. In fact, it amounts to administrative fraud. Any further day the board exists is tantamount to allowing wilful iniquity and illegality to run riot. Moreover, the fact that they have been paying themselves all manner of allowances even after the expiration of their legal tenure is criminal.
I urge you, Sir, to act fast to get rid of this anomaly.
Besides the injustice to Bayelsa and the other states that are being denied their statutory slots, and the contravention of the law, the issue of the NDDC tenancy is given urgency by certain allegations and suspicions that have come to the fore, which border on the integrity and image of the present administration.
Since last year, there have been claims about some underhand dealings by some senior officials of the government to illegally extend the tenure of the NDDC Board. Several groups and individuals have protested the alleged move to make the board stay longer than is statutorily provided. This situation certainly does not augur well for the administration and the change agenda.
I am, therefore, calling on Mr. President to immediately dissolve the NDCC Board and reconstitute it in line with the law and the existing rotational arrangement that has ensured peace and equity among the NDDC states.
I trust that you will act fairly on this matter.”