Don't Remove NDDC From Niger Delta Ministry, South-South Leaders Tell Buhari
Don't Remove NDDC From Niger Delta Ministry, South-South Leaders Tell Buhari

NDIG Blasts Rita Lori-Ogbebor, Says Senate Confirmed NDDC Board Never Nullified.

Rita Lori-Ogbebor’s assertions that the board of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, nominated by President Buhari and affirmed by the Senate, was annulled based on a court challenge brought by her and others against its inauguration have been dismissed by the Niger Delta Integrity Group, NDIG.

Lori-Ogbebor noted in a letter to the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs that the commission needed new management and that the Federal Government should make the forensic audit results public.

In a letter to Lori-Ogbebor in response to the letter, NDIG’s President, Akpoebide Okotiene, and Secretary, Edet Ekpenyong, stated that Lori-assertion Ogbebor’s is “not only untrue but humiliating.”

“The fact of the matter is that there was no dissolution or nullification of the Senate-confirmed NDDC Board, neither has there been a court order or judgement anywhere against the Board’s inauguration.

 “The facts are very clear. President Muhammadu Buhari had in exercise of his constitutional powers forwarded to the Senate for confirmation, the appointment of a 16 – member board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) via a letter dated 18th October, 2019, personally signed by him.

 “The President’s letter read: ‘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, in the letter, expressed hope that ‘the Senate will consider and confirm the nominees in the usual expeditious manner.’

 “Accordingly, the written request, which was read on the floor of the Senate on Tuesday, October 22, 2019 by its President, Dr Ahmad Lawan, was given expeditious consideration by the upper legislative chamber, which directed its Standing Committee on Niger Delta, to screen all the nominees and report back within a week.

 “The Senate screened and confirmed the appointments of 15 out of the 16 nominees on Tuesday, November 5, 2019, based on the report tabled before it by the Committee on Niger Delta.

 “What then happened in the case of the NDDC Governing Board, which was appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari in October 2019 is that after the appointees were vetted by all relevant agencies of the federal government, screened and confirmed by the Nigerian Senate on the 5th of November 2019, Mr President asked that the inauguration of the Board should be put on hold pending the completion of the forensic audit, for which an Interim Management Committee was appointed for the NDDC.

 “The decision to step down the inauguration of the Senate confirmed Board was not due to any non-compliance with the NDDC Act. It was strictly to make way for the Forensic Audit to be undertaken. There was no dissolution or nullification of the Senate confirmed Board as it had not been inaugurated.

 “The Federal Government announced during the inauguration ceremony of the IMC that the Senate-Confirmed NDDC Board will be inaugurated after the forensic audit. The decision to step down the inauguration of the Senate Confirmed Board was not due to any court case. There was no dissolution of the Senate Confirmed Board as it had not been inaugurated, nor was it disbanded.

 “On the 24th day of June 2021, while receiving the Ijaw National Congress at the State House in Abuja, President Buhari said that the NDDC Board would be inaugurated as soon as the forensic audit report is submitted. The President said: ‘I want to assure you that as soon as the forensic audit report is submitted and accepted, the NDDC Board will be inaugurated’.

 “In typical fashion, Lori-Ogbebor has deployed lies and innuendos in her dubious narrative, as published in her letter and other such campaigns. This is clearly a desperate agenda to cramp the public space with falsehood in the hope that she can achieve her ethnic agenda, which she has been openly canvassing.

 “Rita Lori-Ogbebor is labouring and propagating the exclusion of legally qualified Deltans from the NDDC Board by falsely proposing that any appointment into the leadership of the NDDC Board should only come from her Itsekiri tribe. This open act of subterfuge, callousness and desperation is shameful and indeed despicable.

 “We reject calls by ethnic champions such as Lori-Ogbebor who have built a reputation for perpetuating conflict among the tribes of the Niger Delta.

 “It is important to note that the NDDC Act does not recognize ethnicity as a basis for appointment into its board. To project ethnicity is a call to disharmony and anarchy. The makers of the NDDC Act in their wisdom clearly avoided this path which can only lead to conflicts and hate in the States of the Niger Delta Region.

 “The NDDC Act, which is the law that governs appointments into the NDDC Board, in Part 1, Section 2(1) B only requires a member of the NDDC Governing Board to come from an “Oil Producing Area”. An area is a definite geographical space bound by its recognition in the constitution as an administrative space.

 “Thus, an area is a state, a local government area or a senatorial district. In the context of the NDDC act, an oil producing area is coterminous with an oil producing local government area. All indigenes of Oil Producing Local Government Areas in Delta State (whether they are Urhobo, Ijaw, Isoko, Itsekiri, or Ndokwa) are eligible.

 “Nobody can be excluded on the basis of tribe as long as he or she is from an oil producing Local Government Area in Delta State. Similarly, all indigenes of Oil Producing Local Government Areas in the Niger Delta are eligible for appointment into the NDDC Board.

 “People like Rita Lori Ogbebor have deployed falsehood to build a nest of unearned and undeserved privileges over the years by feasting in falsehood, acrimony and division. A decent society cannot allow her to continue to spew lies to attempt to interfere with the legitimate process of governance. All her claims are lies and are intended to fraudulently ambush the legitimate process. Her strategy is to throw up inaccurate, unfounded, claims with the aim of misleading the public and institutions. It is instructive that Niger Deltans do not take her seriously.

 “Niger Deltans have, over the past two years, endured the abuse of the NDDC Act by the appointment of interim management committees and a sole administrator who are not fully representative of the nine constituent states, and have carried on without regard for due process. Aware of the protests and dissatisfaction of Niger Deltans with that arrangement, President Buhari had promised by himself, on June 24, 2021, that the Board will be inaugurated once the forensic audit report is submitted. That has been done and we call on Mr President to keep his promise, which is the expectation of Niger Deltans.

 “With the submission of the forensic audit report to President Buhari seven months ago on September 2, 2021, the inauguration of the Board of the Niger Delta Development Commission should not be delayed any further, certainly not by the meddlesomeness of fringe ethnic champions who are working to delay the progress of our region.

 “We state this fully aware that there are people who have been recruited by persons keen to continue the current aberration of the sole administrator by orchestrating a crisis through campaigns for persons of their ethnic extraction to be appointed into the board.

 “Specifically, this recycled claim by Rita Lori-Ogbebor that only someone from her Itsekiri tribe is eligible for appointment into the Board as a representative of Delta State is provocative, anarchical and insulting to other ethnic groups.

 “What will become of our ethnic harmony if every ethnic group begins to make such provocative statements? This is clearly a recipe for chaos and schisms.

 “It is therefore very clear from the above that Rita Lori-Ogbebor is still telling lies and not speaking for the Niger Delta people nor acting in our best interest.

 “Consequently, we urge the general public, stakeholders, and Niger Deltans to ignore her ignominious deception, anti-people statements and meddlesome outbursts as we await President Buhari to fulfil his promise to inaugurate the NDDC Board to ensure fair representation of the nine constituent states, accountability in the utilization of the NDDC funds, checks and balances, and due process in the Commission in compliance with the NDDC Act.”

READ ALSO: Lori Ogbebor Urges Akpabio Make Public Findings Of NDDC Forensic Audit

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