Damian Nwikinaka and Ochuko Kanuhor, executive officers of the Niger Delta Renaissance Coalition debunk the assertion that the board of the Niger Deltaevelopmemt Commission did get the approval of President Muhammadu Buhari
Chief Joe Omene’s recent comments in the media wherein he made false claims as to the composition of the Board of the Niger Delta Development Commission that has been on hold since it was cleared by the Senate in November 2019 is both irresponsible and unfortunate.
In the interview, Chief Omene, who falsely parades himself as President General of Urhobo Progress Union claimed that the appointment of the Board, which was cleared by the Senate on November 5, 2019, did not have President Buhari’s approval. This is false. The president’s letter to Senate President Ahmed Lawan, which is dated October 18, 2019 and which he personally signed, was made available to the media and has been published widely.
The president’s letter titled, ‘Confirmation of Appointments of the Board of Niger Delta Development Commission’ reads: “In accordance with the provision of Section 2(2)(a) of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) (Establishment) Act, 2000, I write to forward, for confirmation by the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the under listed nominees for appointment into the NDDC board, to occupy the positions indicated against their names.”
President Buhari then went ahead to list the following: Dr Pius Odubu (Edo State) as chairman of the Board, Bernard O. Okumagba (Delta State) as the Managing Director, Engr Otobong Ndem (Akwa Ibom) as Executive Director, Projects, and Maxwell Oko (Bayelsa) as Executive Director, Finance and Administration. Others include the following as State representatives: Nwogu N Nwogu (Abia), Theodore A Allison (Bayelsa), Victor Antai (Akwa Ibom), Maurice Effiwatt (Cross River), Prophet Jones Erue (Delta State)), Chief Victor Ekhalor (Edo State), Olugbenga Edema (Ondo), Hon Uchegbu Chidiebere Kyrian representing Imo State.
The rest of the board nominees listed by the President in his letter to the Senate President are Aisha Murtala Mohammed from Kano State to represent the North West, Shuaib Ardo Zubairu from Adamawa State to represent the North East and Ambassador Abdullahi M Bage from Nasarawa State to represent North Central.
President Buhari, in the letter, expressed the hope that “the Senate will consider and confirm the nominees in the usual expeditious manner.”
Accordingly, the written request from President Muhammadu Buhari, which was read on the floor of the Senate on Tuesday, October 29, 2019 by the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, was given expeditious consideration by the upper legislative chamber, which directed its standing committee on NDDC to carry out the screening exercise on all the nominees and report back within a week.
The Senate’s standing committee headed by Senator Peter Nwaoboshi (PDP Delta North), subsequently carried out the screening exercise on the nominees on Thursday, October 31, 2019, upon which the Senate confirmed the appointments of 15 out of the 16 nominees on Tuesday, November 5, 2019 based on the report tabled before the Senate by its Standing committee.
It is very clear therefore that Chief Omene is not speaking the truth on the composition of the Board, which as has been clearly shown, was presented to the Senate by President Buhari via a letter which he personally signed and Confirmed by the Senate on November 5 2019. What remains is for the duly confirmed Board to be sworn in and to commence work. Chief Omene can only be representing an agenda that blinds him to the facts. We recall that in May last year Chief Omene had affirmed his support for the fraudulent and illegal Interim Management Committee, for pecuniary gains. It is not difficult to see that Omene is on yet another dubious mission.
It is shameful that those who pushed him forward to tell these shameful lies sought to dress Chief Omene in the borrowed robes of the President-General of Urhobo Progress Union (UPU), the apex sociocultural organization of the Urhobo people. His published remarks, which are not only jaundiced but clearly in conflict with the general position of the Urhobo people, further confirm why he is not in reckoning in the Urhobo nation.
As a group that cuts across the ethnic nationalities of the Niger Delta, we make bold to say that Chief Omene is not the leader of the Urhobos and indeed does not lead the UPU or any socio political group in Urhobo land. His interventions therefore in using the UPU name is to put a veneer of respectability to his false claims.
Omene also does not speak for the Niger Delta people. His comments should therefore be consigned to the waste-basket where they belong.