On the return of civil rule in 1999, one of the major decisions of the federal government was the passage of the NDDC Act in 2000, to quicken the development of the nine oil-producing states.
The oil producing belt had continually witnessed youth restiveness over apparent neglect and environmental degradation from oil exploitation, leading to militancy and agitations for resource control.
Several previous intervention efforts by the federal government in the Niger Delta had failed for various reasons and the NDDC Act was seen as robust enough to bring peace to the restive oil fields through development, justice and fair play.
The mission of the Commission is to facilitate “the rapid, even and sustainable development of the Niger Delta into a region that is economically prosperous, socially stable, ecologically regenerative and politically peaceful.”
Part of the stability envisaged for the then turbulent oil belt was designed into the NDDC Act through what was seen as a fair and just succession plan. In this regard, all the nine oil-producing states of Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Imo, Ondo and Rivers are to produce the two topmost positions of chairman and managing director in stipulated order. While the office of the chairman shall rotate among the oil- producing states in alphabetical order, the office of the managing director shall rotate among the nine states according to their oil production volume.
Specifically, Part 1V of the Act provides for “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 among member states in order of production.”
The Act came into effect on July 12, 2000, and Abia State, the first in alphabetical order produced the first chairman in Onyema Ugochukwu. Similarly, according to the production volume then, Delta State was the number one, and produced the first managing director in Godwin Omene.
Presently, the oil production quantum of the nine states is as follows: Akwa Ibom State– 31.4%; Delta–21.56%; Rivers– 21.4%; Bayelsa –18.07%; Ondo–3. 74%; Edo State–2.06%; Imo–1.06%; Abia–0.68%; and Cross River – (a court verdict gave Cross River’s former oil wells to Akwa Ibom while others were lost to Cameroon in the Bakassi Penisula dispute).
When Omene was removed in 2002, he was replaced by Emmanuel Aguariavwodo also from the same Delta as MD. Timi Alaibe from Bayelsa State was the executive director, finance and administration while Udoh Mbosoh from Akwa Ibom was the executive director, projects. When Mbosoh was removed in 2002, he was replaced by Ukot Thomas Ukot also from Akwa Ibom State who completed the tenure of the first board
In the second board, Sam Edem from Akwa Ibom was chairman and Timi Alaibe from Bayelsa as MD. Pastor Power Aginighan from Delta State was EDFA, while Beneiah Ojum from Rivers State was the EDP. According to the law, when a person is removed, another from the same state is appointed to complete its tenure on the board.
In the third board, Larry Koinyan of Bayelsa State, a retired Air Vice Marshal, was chairman and Chibuzo Ugwuoha of Rivers State was MD. Pastor Power Aginighan from Delta State was the EDFA and Esoetok Etteh from Akwa Ibom was EDP.
The third board was dissolved and new members were appointed from the same states to complete their tenure as follows: Tariah Tebepah from Bayelsa as chairman; Christian Oboh, Rivers State as MD; Jambert Koboye from Delta, EDFA; and Edikan Eshiet from Akwa Ibom as EDP.
The fourth board followed the same pattern. Bassey Ewa Henshaw from Cross River was chairman; Bassey Dan Abia from Akwa Ibom MD; Henry Ogiri from Rivers EDFA and Omotule Tuoyo from Delta as EDP.
The fourth board was dissolved in 2015 and new members were appointed from the same states to complete their tenure as follows: Victor Ndoma Egba from Cross River, chairman; Nsima Ekere, Akwa Ibom, MD; Meme Derek, Rivers, EDFA; and Adjogbe Ajenakuwe, Delta, EDP. Their tenure expired and President Muhammadu Buhari dissolved the board in January2019.
From the history of the Commission from 2000 to date, it is clear that Delta State, the fifth state in alphabetical order, should produce the next chairman of the NDDC board; while Ondo State, the fifth state in production volume should produce the next managing director of the Commission.
That is what the NDDC Act stipulates and nothing less will ensure peace, justice and fairness in the oil producing areas. The present scheming by ambitious aspirants from states that have used their slots and their political godfathers should be rightly rejected by Mr President. What is good for the geese is good for the gander.
––Olasanya, a public affairs analyst wrote from Abuja.