By Sunday Okobi
The people of Itsekiri in Delta State have called on President Muhammadu Buhari to strictly appoint a professional from the oil-bearing communities of the state as next managing director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
They insisted that since it was the turn of the state to ‘originally’ provide the managing director and chairman of the interventionist agency, they are rooting for a chief executive of the commission to come for the Itsekiri ethnic stock.
The leader of the Itsekiri people and rights activist, Chief Rita Lori-Ogbebor, who spoke to journalists on behalf of others recently in Lagos, argued that the advocacy was informed by her conviction for fair play based on official figures that Itsekiri settlements in the three Warri local government areas account for “17 per cent of the crude oil output in Nigeria and 50 per cent of the Delta State production.”
The veteran journalist insisted that: “We can’t allow the appointment of anyone who is not from the oil-bearing communities as chairman of the board or managing director of the commission. This campaign is in line with our pursuit of justice and equity for the long-suffering people of the Niger Delta.”
“Having been at the forefront of the fight for the development of the Niger Delta region, it is incumbent on me to make sure that the oil-bearing communities in the region get a better deal.
“Therefore, I want to restate that our position on the composition of the board has not changed. It remains the same.
“We cannot allow the appointment of anyone who is not from the oil-bearing communities as chairman of the board or managing director of the commission.”
She recalled that prior to the dissolution of the last board, “we strongly spoke against the appointment of the managing director on the grounds that only someone from an oil-bearing community should be appointed. We were glad that President Buhari listened to our complaints and nullified the appointment.
“Our opposition to that manner of appointment remains. This is being done in line with our pursuit of justice and equity for the long-suffering people of the Niger Delta.
“We reject also anybody parading himself as the political leader of the Niger Delta region on the false grounds that the president has handed over the region to him.”
She pleaded with Nigerian leaders to sustain its firm disposition in the wake of the revelations thrown up by the investigation of the agency by the National Assembly, insisting that the commission should be directly under the presidency for better supervision.