The Niger Delta Stakeholders has accused Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State of not being honest in his statement that the national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole, “got top officials at the Presidency to approve the composition of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) Board when President Muhammadu Buhari was out of the country.”
In a statement issued on Tuesday in Calabar, Cross River State, by the President of Niger Delta Stakeholders, Dimiebi Jackson, the group stated: “We do not wish to be dragged into the unfortunate turf battle between the Governor of Edo State and Comrade Oshiomhole, but as key stakeholders in the Niger Delta, we urge the governor to restrain from dragging NDDC board into the war of words to sustain his narratives of imposition against the APC national chairman.”
According to Jackson, information already in the public domain confirms that President Muhammadu Buhari, on October 18 in a letter he personally signed, and addressed to the Senate president, Ahmad Lawan, requested the Senate to confirm the appointments of a 16-member board of the NDDC.
To set the records straight, Jackson restated the process that led to the formation of the NDDC board, which was duly confirmed by the Senate on November 5.
“As has been widely reported in the media, The Senate-approved board whose members had been waiting to be inaugurated by the President was constituted with inputs from Niger Delta leaders, including the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole; the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege; Minister of State for Petroleum, Chief Timpre Sylva, and Niger Delta Minister, Senator Goodwill Akpabio and approved by the Presidency as being in accordance with the Act setting up the Commission, which prescribes the manner in which the board and management is to be constituted,” he said.
The NDS leader added: “Senator Omo-Agege had been contacted by Presidency officials that President Buhari needed upright and competent people to run the affairs of the NDDC because he felt the interventionist Agency had not been properly run in the past, and which also informed President Buhari’s decision to order a forensic audit of the Commission.
“Senator Omo-Agege, therefore, reached out to the leaders of the Niger Delta region – Comrade Oshiomhole, Senator Godswill Akpabio, Chief Timpre Sylva, and other leaders – who nominated the commission’s members and approved by the Presidency as being in accordance with the Act setting up the Commission, which prescribes the manner in which the board and management is to be constituted.”
Jackson further regretted that Governor Obaseki also stretched half-truths on the NDDC board composition by stating that it consisted of Oshiomhole’s “cronies apparently in violation of the existing rules…he did not care whether the rules were followed, nor the integrity of the people being appointed.”
Jackson said: “We need to remind Governor Obaseki that the Senate-approved members of the NDDC Board were properly nominated and forwarded to the Senate by the President. By questioning the integrity of the NDDC Board members that President Buhari personally sent their nomination to the Senate President, Governor Obaseki is unwittingly calling to question the President’s decision-making process.”
It is against this background that President Buhari, in his December 19 statement announcing that the new board would be inaugurated after the completion of the forensic audit being supervised by the Interim Management Committee, did not state that the Senate-approved board had been dissolved or will be re-constituted, but rather that it would be “recomposed and inaugurated after the forensic audit”, re-affirming Buhari’s implicit confidence and faith in the NDDC board and the inclusive process that led to its formation.
Niger Delta Stakeholders, therefore, urged Obaseki to refrain from making unfounded comments that contradict the established facts on the process for the composition of the Senate-approved board of the NDDC.