Semenitari (standing),delivering her address at the handing-over ceremony. Ndoma-Egba, NDDC Commissioner for Cross River State, Sylvester Nsa and others, watch

A mini-reception to celebrate Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba inauguration as chairman of the NDDC board was spiced with calls for a new narrative from the commission, writes Bassey Inyang

Members of the current board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) were sworn-in by President Muhammdu Buhari, represented by the Minister of Niger Delta, Mr. Usani Usani, at the conference hall of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation in Abuja, the nation’s federal capital, on Friday, November 4, this year.

Among the 16 persons cleared by the Senate, and inaugurated by the President, were Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba (SAN), and Mr. Nsima Ekere, both of whom would serve as Chairman and Managing Director (MD) of the board, respectively.
They took over from the former Acting Managing Director (MD) of the commission, Mrs. Ibim Semenitari who was appointed by the president December last year.

It was a momentous occasion and a memorable day, especially for the people of the nine states of the Niger Delta region who have waited for the reconstitution of a new board for the commission since President Buhari dissolved the former board in December, 2015.
For their numerous admirers and well-wishers, it was a day that called for the rolling out of the drums for celebration.

As much as the occasion called for celebration, given the appointment of no less an experienced and cultured personality as Ndoma-Egba as chairman of the new board, it was high time the NDDC was placed in proper stead to serve the people of the region, some have reasoned.

So, at the end of the inauguration, members of the board and their well-wishers trooped to different parts of Abuja to make merry, and offer words of encouragement to the new NDDC appointees.

It was the scene at the Abuja residence of Ndoma-Egba where his wife, Amaka Ndoma-Egba, and the former Senate Leader had staged a mini-reception for guests who trooped there to celebrate with them.

But as the guests helped themselves to assorted delicacies, especially Nigerian cuisines and assorted drinks, some of the guests and well-wishers of the Ndoma-Egbas who delivered their goodwill messages also called for a new, accountable and productive approach in the running of the NDDC.

They tasked the chairman to ensure that an internal surgery was conducted on the commission with a view to cleansing it of its internal rot and making it more developmental in nature.
A former governor of Cross River State, Dr. Clement Ebri, said Ndoma-Egba’s appointment was “oxygen to Cross River State and the Niger Delta.

“As far as we are concerned, Buhari has given us the best shot. Ndoma-Egba is endowed intellectually. He has the capacity, acumen, credibility and integrity and we are all proud of him. This appointment is like 10 appointments. We thank God for taking shame away from our faces. For years Cross River State has had nothing worth celebrating. We thank God for this administration. There is hope for Cross River.

“We should give him our support and understanding. Rome was not built in a day. He should be supported to succeed. There is so much to repair in the NDDC. A lot has been destroyed. Ndoma-Egba should go and tidy up that place and make it prosperous to the Niger Delta and the nation at large. God will strengthen you and we are proud of you.
“He has the intellect, he has the capacity, he has the acumen, and he has the credibility and integrity. I am so proud. It is like 10 appointments as far as I am concerned. So, I want to join all of you in thanking Mr. President for giving us this and removing the shame from our faces,” Ebri said.

Continuing, Ebri who is a member of the Board of Trustees (BoT) of the All Progressives Congress (APC) said, “For several years, we have not had anything worth celebrating, but today there is hope for the Cross Riverians, there is hope for Niger Delta, there is hope for APC, and there is hope for Nigeria. I plead that we should all give him the support and also show understanding. Rome was not built in a day. He is going into an organisation that has been destroyed. An organisation that has been seriously under governed and he needs some time. Don’t expect that he will take care of everybody overnight. There is so much to repair. We are suffering today because our people failed to reckon with the storms when fair weather prevailed and that is precisely what he needs to do now. To go and tidy up that place and make it once again profitable and bring prosperity to the organisation. So, I pray God should give him the wisdom, courage and all that he needs to put that place back on an even keel. We as Cross Riverians are proud of him and we can assure you that we can close our eyes and go to sleep because we know he is going to discharge this assignment with all the arsenals at his command.”

A former senator representing the Southern Senatorial District of Cross River State, Prince Bassey Otu, described the appointment as important one in the annals of the Niger Delta, more so with the yearnings of the people of the region for an NDDC that would bring unprecedented development to the region.

“We wish you a very productive session in the NDDC. Your appointment this day is an important one in the annals of history of Cross River State and the Niger Delta. We call on you to continue the tradition of Cross Riverians in the federal service who have offered impeccable and quintessential service to the motherland.

“The NDDC is an interventionist agency that has been left in a state of great mess. God has sent a man of peace to the NDDC. We solicit support from all to give him necessary backing to succeed. We wish you a very productive work session in the NDDC. We urge you to work hard to turn around the fortunes of the Niger Delta. Do not be afraid. We are always behind you. Be courageous and strong.

“This is an important day in the annals of development of the Niger Delta. We salute the dexterity of a man destined for the top. Despite the plan to truncate his way to the top when God has planned no man can stop,” Otu said.

Also speaking, a former Nigerian Ambassador to Mali, Mr. Soni Abang, told the new NDDC chairman to be committed and work hard to change the fortunes of the region.
Abang stated that it was time the Niger Delta region should be known for greater things in terms of infrastructural and human development.

“I have no doubt that he will deliver on this assignment. He will do this job and excel. For the people of the South-south, I want to assure you that you have a square peg in a square hole. We must all support him to succeed in this assignment. It is time for the South-south and Niger Delta to rise and shine. It is for the Niger Delta to be known for greater things than what it is known for now. It is for Nigerians to know that there are leadership materials in the Niger Delta that can change the destiny of this country if given the opportunity.”

Chairman of the Editorial Board of the African Independent Television (AIT), Ray Ugba Murphy stated that given the experience garnered by Ndoma-Egba in public service, he was confident that the NDDC under his leadership would perform creditably, to the satisfaction of the South-south people and the people of Cross River State.

“I stand here with pleasure because I come from the South-south and Cross River State. I stand here in gratitude to God and then after that, to the “President and Commander-in-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. We are grateful to Mr. President for putting the South-south agenda on the table and within the southern agenda he has put our friend and brother, distinguished Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba on the saddle. Many years ago he was appointed commissioner at the age of 27 and he did a great job. I want to believe this opportunity is a chance for the South-south to know excellence that comes from Cross River State. “Cross River State is good and we are going to show what we are made of and I think that the South-south for the first time will have an opportunity to see and understand why Cross River is the largest state in southern Nigeria. Good times are here. South-south should be ready for Cross River magic and I tell you, after the tenure of this NDDC you will know why they say Calabar is where it happens.”

Toeing the line of the various speakers, Ndoma-Egba, promised a complete overhaul of the commission for the attainment of the much needed development of the Niger Delta region.

“First of all, we would need to carry out a number of audits. An audit of our systems, audit of our processes, audit of our projects and audit of our personnel so that we can have a true picture of, not only the governance systems, but also a true picture of our obligations,” Ndoma-Egba said.

Ndoma-Egba promised that the new board members would not fail the people of the region in the task set before them, but stated that: “The people must be prepared to contribute their quota in the development of their regions.”