The appointment of a former deputy governor of Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Nsima Ekere, as the Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission is more than just a ‘job for the boys’. Segun James writes
That President Muhammadu Buhari was going to appoint someone from Akwa Ibom as the Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) was not in doubt. The Act establishing the commission dictates that it was not only the turn of the state to produce the chief executive of the commission, which rotates among the oil producing states, according to the oil production quota, but that the state still has about two more years to run on its four years tenure before another state takes over.
The surprise, however, was the submission of the name of a former deputy governor of Akwa Ibom State, Obong Nsima Ekere to the Senate for confirmation by the President. Not only that, the appointment of a former Senate Leader, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba, as chairman of the Commission, also took many by surprise. Ndoma-Egba only recently joined the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Ekere immediately replaces Mrs. Ibim Semenitari, a former Commissioner for Information in Rivers State, who has been acting as the Managing Director of the commission since Mr. Bassey Dan Abia was removed by President Buhari last year.
Ekere, a political warrior, was at loggerheads with his principal, former Governor Godswill Akpabio over who would succeed him. While he believed he should naturally take over from the governor because of his supposed loyalty to his boss, the governor thought otherwise and in the political crisis that followed, he was ousted, a situation that made him and his successor, Valerie Ebe as one those who had occupied the office of deputy governor for the shortest period.
With only 17 months and two days in office, Ekere had the shortest stint as deputy governor in Akwa Ibom’s history while Ebe was the first female deputy governor in the state. Ekere had hurriedly resigned from office on Wednesday, October 31, to beat his planned impeachment by the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, believed to have been instigated by Akpabio.
After the former deputy governor resigned, words like loyalty and obedience popped up in the air as citizens speculated what really went wrong between him and Akpabio, and at what point their relationship went bad. But a segment of the people in Akwa Ibom, who were carried away by the emotions of 2015 politics saw it differently – that another powerful aspirant from the Eket Senatorial District had been “forced out of the race for the 2015 governorship election”.
As a result of his resignation, Ekere defected to the APC and was one of the aspirants that made it tough for the PDP candidate to emerge governor of the state. Since the general election, Ekere had been out of the limelight until his surprise appointment, which is by all standards, a big comeback for him, both politically and otherwise.
Reacting to the appointment, the Akwa Ibom State Working Committee of the APC in a statement jointly signed by the leader of the party, Obong Umana Umana and the state chairman of the party, Dr. Amadu Attai, commended the president for the reconstitution of the board of the NDDC.
“On behalf of the State Working Committee and the entire membership of the Akwa Ibom State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC), we want to commend President Muhammadu Buhari on the reconstitution of the Board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
“We are indeed delighted at the high quality of appointees to the new Board of the Commission and want to register our appreciation of the President’s careful and well-considered choices, which reflect deep concern for experience, competence and integrity. We are confident that the new Board under the able chairmanship of the highly experienced Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba will effectively steer the affairs of the Commission for the fulfillment of its mandate to the people of the Niger Delta,” the party stated.
The party also described the former deputy governor as the right pick for the top job at the Commission in terms of his track record, exposure and other indicators of leadership and expressed confidence in his ability to discharge the office of Managing Director of the Commission with utmost prudence, dedication and exemplary sense of duty.
They further expressed delight at the choice of the Commissioner-designate from the state, describing Hon. Frank as a man known for his self-control, loyalty to any cause he believes in and commitment to duty and therefore wished all the appointees to the new Board of the NDDC success in their new assignments.
Also, a former Minister of Petroleum, Atuekong Don Etiebet, who spoke on the telephone with our reporter from the United States of America, said Buhari had by the NDDC appointment proved mischief makers wrong.
“I received the news two days ago while on a trip in the USA with lots of excitement. I quickly sent my congratulations to His Excellency, Obong Nsima Ekere on his very well deserved appointment, which has gone to prove the political mischief makers wrong that Akwa Ibom was being neglected. I thank President Muhammadu Buhari most heartily for the appointment and pray Almighty God to give His Excellency, Nsima Ekere all the wisdom to make the difference at the NDDC required of him in this dispensation,” he said.
On his part, the immediate past Senator representing Akwa Ibom North West, Senator Aloysius Etok described Ekere’s appointment as a perfect match for the institution and expressed gratitude to President Buhari for making it happen.
“I congratulate His Excellency, Obong Nsima Ekere on this well-deserved appointment as the Managing Director of NDDC. He is a square peg in a square hole given his wealth of experience and knowledge of the Niger Delta Region.”
Ekere was born on May 29, 1965 in Ikot Oboroenyin, Edemaya Clan in Ikot Abasi Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State. He started his secondary education at Regina Coeli College, Essene, Ikot Abasi, and completed same at Mary Knoll College Ogoja, Cross River State.
He had a brief stint at The Polytechnic, Calabar between 1981 and 1982 before proceeding to the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, where he graduated with B.Sc. Honours Degree in Estate Management in 1986.
He is a fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Estate Surveyors and Valuers (FNIVS).
He is also a registered member of Estate Surveyors and Valuers Registration Board of Nigeria (ESVRBN). A Senior Certified Valuer of the International Real Estate Institute, IREI, Minnesota, USA, Ekere is an associate member of the Institute of Revenues, Rating and Valuation, IRRV, London.
In 1989, Mr. Ekere set up Gassons Nigeria Limited, an indigenous anti-corrosion, environmental, fabrication/maintenance engineering company.
Before joining politics, Ekere was the Principal Partner at Ekere and Associates, a firm of estate valuers and real estate development consultants with offices in Port Harcourt, Lagos, Abuja and Uyo, which he started in 1993.
He had sat on the board of the Voice of Nigeria (VON) and also served in various entities like Universal Energy Resources Limited, Anchor Insurance before emerging deputy governor of Akwa Ibom State.
Ekere’s active political career began in December 1997, when he contested and won election into the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly during the Abacha Transition on the platform of the Grassroots’ Democratic Movement (GDM). He wasn’t however inaugurated before Abacha died in June 1998 and that transition was truncated.
He then joined the PDP at the start of the Abdulsalami Abubakar’s transition in 1998 and played a very active part in the politics of the state till he emerged deputy governor on May 29, 2011.
In March 2008, Ekere was appointed Executive Chairman of Akwa Ibom Investment & Industrial Promotion council (AKIIPOC), the investments and industrial promotions’ arm of the Akwa Ibom State Government. He also served simultaneously as Chairman of Ibom Power Company, the independent power generating company owned by Akwa Ibom State.
According to him, he left the PDP on personal grounds on October 31, 2012. He was the leader of the G22, a group of 22 disgruntled PDP governorship aspirants in the 2015 governorship poll, who defected to the APC after losing out in the primaries. He is married to Ese.
As a result of his resignation, Ekere defected to the APC and was one of the aspirants that made it tough for the PDP candidate to emerge governor of the state. Since the general election, Ekere had been out of the limelight until his surprise appointment, which is by all standards, a big comeback for him, both politically and otherwise