By Eric Teniola
Since 2000 every President in Nigeria has been unfair to Ondo and Imo states in terms of appointments of chairman/Managing Director/Executive Director in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
It does not matter the quantum of oil produced in those two states as long as they are still members of the NNDC, the rotation formula as contained in the Niger Delta Devlopment Commission (NDDC) act should be applied. Why do I say so?
On August 27, 1991, General Ibrahim Babangida, GCFR, created Delta state along with other states. He then named Asaba as the state capital, a decision that is still regarded as crucial even till today. A few months later on June 25, 1992, General Babangida established the Oil Mineral Producing Areas Development Commission (OMPADEC). On July 9, 1992, General Babangida signed into law, the OMPADEC Decree. The states covered by OMPADEC were Rivers, Delta, Akwa Ibom, Imo, Edo, Ondo and Abia states. Port-Harcourt was named as the headquarters of OMPADEC in the decree. The decree states among others that the Chairman and all other members of the Commission shall be appointed by the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces; the Chairman and all members of the Commission shall be full-time members; the Chairman shall be the chief executive of the Commission and the supplementary provisions contained in the Schedule to this Decree shall have effect with respect to the proceedings of the Commission and the other matters contained therein.
In establishing OMPADEC, General Babangida took a cue from Section 159 of the 1963 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. General Babangida should be commended for establishing OMPADEC. From 1966 till 1992 nothing was done by the Central Government to cater for the plight of the people from that region. Section 159 of the 1963 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria states that —–(1) There shall be a board for the Niger Delta which shall be styled the Niger Delta Development Board. (2) The members of the Board shall be— (a) a person appointed by the President, who shall be chairman (b) a person appointed by the Governor of Eastern Nigeria; (c) a person appointed by the Governor of Mid-Western Nigeria; and such other persons may be appointed in such manner as may be prescribed by Parliament to represent the inhabitants of the Niger Delta. (3) A member of the board shall vacate his office in such circumstances as may be prescribed by Parliament (4) The Board shall be responsible for advising the Government of the Federation and the Governments of Eastern Nigeria and Mid-Western Nigeria with respect to the physical development of the Niger Delta, and in order to discharge that responsibility the Board shall— (a) cause the Niger Delta to be surveyed in order to ascertain what measures are required to promote its physical development; (b) prepare schemes designed to promote the physical development of the Niger Delta , together with estimates of the costs of putting the schemes into effect; (c) submit to the Government of the Federation and the Governments of Eastern Nigeria and Mid-Western annual reports describing the work of the Board and the measures taken in pursuance of its advice; (5) Parliament may make such provision as it considers expedient for enabling the Board to discharge its functions under this section; (6) In this section, “the Niger Delta” means the area specified in the Proclamation relating to the Board which was made on the twenty-sixth day of August, 1959; (7) this section shall cease to have effect on the first day of July, 1969, or such later date as may be prescribed by Parliament.
The objectives of the Niger Delta Development Board are the same as that of OMPADEC which are to (a) to receive and administer the monthly sums from the allocation of the Federation Account in accordance with confirmed ratio of oil production in each State— (i) for the rehabilitation and development of oil mineral producing areas, (ii) for tackling ecological problems that have arisen from the exploration of oil minerals; (b) to determine and identify, through the Commission and the respective oil mineral producing States, the actual oil mineral producing areas and embark on the development of projects properly agreed upon with the local communities of the oil mineral producing areas; (c) to consult with the relevant Federal and State Government authorities on the control and effective methods of tackling the problem of oil pollution and spillages; (c) to consult with the relevant Federal and State Government authorities on the control and effective methods of tackling the problem of oil pollution and spillages;(d) to liaise with the various oil companies on matters of pollution control (e) to obtain from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation the proper formula for actual oil mineral production of each State, Local Government Area and community and to ensure the fair and equitable distribution of projects, services and employment of personnel in accordance with recognized percentage production; (f) to consult to the Federal Government through the President, the State, Local Governments and oil mineral producing communities regarding projects, services and all other requirements relating to the special fund; (g) to render annual returns to the President, Commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces and copy the State and Local Governments on all matters relating to the special fund; (h) to advise the Federal, State and Local Governments on all matters relating to the special fund; (i) to liaise with the oil producing companies regarding the proper number, location and other relevant data regarding oil mineral producing areas; and (j) to execute other works and perform such other functions which in the opinion of the Commission is geared towards the development of the oil mineral producing areas.
General Babangida appointed Mr. Albert Korubo Horsfall from Buguma in Rivers state as the Chairman of OMPADEC. Mr. Horsfall was the former founding Director of the Nigeria Intelligence Agency and director General of the State Security Service. He also appointed six commissioners to work with Chief Horsfall among whom is my friend, Dr Juniad S. Mohammed. Between 1979 and 1983, Dr. Mohammed represented Kano West ward in the House of Representative. During the tenure of Chief Horsfall, OMPADEC received 11.48 billion naira approximately $133,488,372 from government through monthly disbursements from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). During the tenure of Chief Horsfall, all the six states were allowed to appoint directors in the commission. Mr Ajose Ikudehinbo represented Ondo state and he was made Director of Research and Planning. Dr. Goodluck Jonathan during that time served as Assistant Director in the Fisheries section under Mr. M.C. Kanu who was then Director of Environment. Other directors were Mr. Princewill Iwueze, Mr. Essien, director in charge of finance, Mr. A.I. Nnamani, director in charge of General Administration.
General Sani Abacha, GCFR, came to power on November 17, 1993. On October 1, 1996, he created Bayelsa state out of Rivers state there by increasing the membership of OMPADEC from six to seven. On February 22, 1996, General Abacha dissolved the board of OMPADEC and its Commissioners were removed based on claims of non-performance. The government claimed that the contractors performed below expectations. General Sani Abacha then appointed Professor Eric Agume Opia as the Sole Administrator of OMPADEC. Professor Opia is from Kwale, which is the headquarters of Ndokwa West Local Government Area of Delta State. Kwale has produced eminent citizens including Rear Admiral Mike Onah, Senator Patrick Osakwe, Brigadier Godwin Alabi Isama (although his mum is from Ilorin), Rear Admiral Sunday Uguna, the Minister of Finance in the old Mid-Western Region, Chief Ogoegbuname Idise Dafe among others.
When General Abdusalam Abubakar, GCFR, came to power in June 9, 1998, one of the first thing he did was to fire Professor Opia. He then set up a five-man panel headed by the Chief of Air Staff, Air Vice Marshall Nsikak Eduok to probe the tenure of Professor Opia. On November 11, 1998, General Abdusalam Abubakar appointed the former Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Adm. Dan Preston Omatsola to run the affairs of OMPADEC.
At the time President Olusegun Obasanjo took over on May 29, 1999, he handed the affairs of OMPADEC to his special adviser on utilities, Mr. Linyel Imoke (58). Mr. Imoke hails from Agbo tribe in Abi Local Government Area of Cross River State. His father, Dr. Samuel Imoke was a medical doctor who became a cabinet minister and leader of Parliament in the former Eastern Region. Mr. Imoke’s mum, Comfort Imoke (nee Imoukhhuode) is from Sabo Gida Ora in Edo state while his dad, Dr. Imoke was a good friend of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. In addition, Mr. Imoke was given the schedule of running the then NEPA by President Obasanjo. Mr. Imoke was later elected Governor of Cross River state in 2007. He served for eight years. Chief Opia was later declared wanted by the police following a petition by ambassador Patrick Dele Cole requesting that 38.4 million allegedly taken from OMPADEC coffer by Chief Opia to buy some equipment for a Port Harcourt base construction company be investigated. The destination of Chief Opia till to date is still unknown, but it was learnt that not less than 6 billion naira was released to Chief Eric Opia for the implementation of certain projects mapped out for the Niger Delta region.
In December 1999, President Olusegun Obasanjo, GCFR, sent a bill as an Act changing the status of OMPADEC to NIGER DELTA DEVELOPMENT COMMISSION, NDDC. On June 6, 2000, the Act was passed into Law by the Senate while the Act was passed earlier into Law on June 1, 2000 by the House of Representative. Alhaji Ghali Umar Na’Abba, the Speaker of the House of Representatives signed the Act into Law on July 11, 2000 while my late friend, Dr. Chuba Okadigbo, the then Senate President endorsed the Act on July 12, 2000. The then Clerk of the National Assembly, Alhaji Ibrahim Sali, CON, endorsed the Act as a bill on August 15, 2000 and was signed into Law by President Olusegun Obasanjo, GCFR on that day. The bill states that (1) There is hereby established a body to be known as Niger-Delta Development Commission (in this Act referred to as “the Commission”).(2)The Commission-(a) shall be a body corporate with perpetual succession and a common seal; (b)may sue and be sued in its corporate name. (3) The Commission shall have its head office in Port Harcourt, Rivers State and shall establish an office in each member state of the Commission. 2.(1)There is hereby established for the Commission a governing Board (in this Act referred to as “the Board”), which shall consist of-(a) a Chairman; (b) one person who shall be an indigene of an oil producing area to represent each of the following member States, that is, (i) Abia State,(ii) Akwa-lbom State,(iii) Bayelsa State,(iv)Cross River State,(v) Delta State,(vi) Edo State,(vii) Imo State,(viii) Ondo State, and(ix) Rivers State; (c) three persons to represent non-Oil mineral producing States provided that such membership should be drawn from the remaining geo-political zones which are not represented in the Commission; (d) One representative of Oil producing companies in the Niger- Delta nominated by the Oil producing companies;(e)one person to represent the Federal Ministry of Finance;(f)one person to represent Federal Ministry of Environment (g) the managing Director of the Commission (h) two executive Directors (2)The Chairman and other members-of the Board shall-(a) be appointed by the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, subject to the confirmation of the Senate, in consultation with the House of Representatives.(b) be persons of proven integrity and ability.(3) The members of the Board referred to in paragraph (a – f) of sub-section (1)of this section shall be part-time members(4)The supplementary provisions set out in the Schedule to this Act shall have effect with respect to the proceedings of the Board and the other matters contained therein.3. (1) Subject to the provisions of section 4 of this Act a member of the Board, other than an ex-officio member, shall hold office for a term of 4 years at the first instance and may be re-appointed for a further term of 4 years and no more (2) A member of the Board other than ex-officio member, may resign his appointment by notice, in writing under his hand addressed to the President Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, which resignation shall take effect only upon receipt by the President, Commander-in-Chief. 4. The office of the Chairman SHALL ROTATE amongst the member states of the Commission in the following alphabetical order. (a)Abia State;(b) Akwa-Ibom State; (c) Bayelsa State;(d) Cross-River State; (e) Delta State;(f) Edo State;(g) Imo State;(h) Ondo State; and (i) Rivers State, 5. (1) Notwithstanding the provisions of section 3 of this Act, a person shall cease to hold office as a member of the Board if- (a) he becomes bankrupt, suspends payment or compounds with his creditors; or(b)he is convicted of a felony or any offence involving dishonesty or fraud, or (c)he becomes of unsound mind, or incapable of carrying out his duties; or (d) he is guilty of a serious misconduct in relation to his duties; or(e) in the case of a person possessed of professional qualifications, he is disqualified or suspended, other than at his own request, from practicing his profession in any part of the world by an order of a competent authority made in respect of that member: or (f)he resigns his appointment by a letter addressed to the President, Commander- in-Chief of the Armed Forces. (3) Where a vacancy occurs in the membership of the Board it shall be filled by the appointment of a successor to hold office for the remainder of the term of office of his predecessor, so however, that the successor shall represent the same interest and shall be appointed by the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces subject to the confirmation of the Senate in consultation with the House of representatives.6.There shall be paid to every member of the Board such remunerations, allowances and expenses as the Federal Government may, from time to time, direct.
Section 12 of the NDDC Acts states (1) there shall be for the Commission, 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 amongst member states in the order of production. (a) have such qualification and experience as are appropriate for a person required to perform the functions of those offices under this Act; and (b) the Managing Director shall be the chief executive and accounting officer of the Commission. (c) be appointed by the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces and confirmed by the Senate in consultation with House of Representatives. (d) hold office on such terms and conditions as to emolument, conditions of service as may be specified in his letter of appointment and subject to the provision of section 3 of this Act. (2) The Managing Director shall, subject to the general direction of the Board, be responsible- (a)for the day to day administration of the Commission; (b) for keeping the books and Proper records of the proceedings of the Board, and (c) for -(i) the administration of the secretariat of the Board, and (ii)the general direction and control of all other employees of the Commission and Section 28. (1) The Oil Mineral Producing Areas Development Commission Decree 1998 is hereby repealed and accordingly the Commission established under that Decree (in this section referred to as “the dissolved Commission”) is consequentially dissolved. (2) By virtue of this Act, there shall be vested in the Commission immediately at the commencement of this Act, without further assurance, all assets, funds, resources and other movable and immovable property which immediately before the commencement of this Act were vested in the dissolved Commission. (3) As from the date of the commencement of this Act, all rights, interests, obligations and liabilities of the dissolved Commission existing before the commencement of this Act under any contract or instrument or in law or equity, shall by virtue of this Act be assigned to and vested in the Winding- up Committee to be established and funded by the Federal Government to verify and settle outstanding debt of the dissolved Commission.
President Olusegun Obasanjo appointed Chief Godwin Eyarubere Omene, the first indigenous deputy Managing Director of Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria, the first Managing Director of NDDC. Chief Omene is from Delta state. President Obasanjo also appointed Chief Onyema Ugochukwu (76) as the pioneer Chairman of NDDC. He is from Abia state. Ugochukwu joined the Business Times group as an Economic Analyst and a pioneer staff of what would later become the most influential financial newspaper in Nigeria. Ugochukwu rose in the ranks to become the Editor of the Business Times newspaper (1977 to 1982). In 1983, Ugochukwu became Editor in Chief of the London-based West Africa magazine, where he wrote extensively on development issues, to provide a better understanding of the African debt crisis. Mr. Timi Ndutimi Alaibe from Bayelsa state later succeeded Chief Omene as Managing Director of NDDC between 2007 and 2009. After leaving the Senate in 2007, Senator Bassey Ewa Henshaw from Cross River state was appointed the Chairman of NDDC. He later handed over to Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba also from Cross Rivers state.
Between 2006 and now, the following have served as Managing Director or chairman of NDDC—Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba (Chairman of the Governing Board), 2016–, Mr Nsima Ekere (Managing Director/CEO) from Akwa Ibom state, 2016–, Mr Mene Derek, Executive Director, (Finance and Admin), 2016– and Engr. Adjogbe Samuel, Executive Director, Project, 2016–
Till date, no one from Ondo or Imo state has been appointed Chairman or Managing Director of NDDC. Contrary to what was contained in the bill.
Others appointed either as chairman or managing director or executive director or on acting capacity from 2007 till date include Dr. Christy Otako, Dr. Itotehaan Henri Ogiri, Chief Dan Abia, Dr. Tarilah Tebepah, Mr. Pius Odubu, Mr. Nelson Brambarifa, Bernard Okumugba, Otobong Ndem, Maxwell Okoh, Air Vice Marshall Larry Koinyan, Chibuzor Ugwuoha, Christian Oboh, L.E.J. Konboye, Dr. Joi Nunieh, Chief Isaac Jemide and others. None of these persons are from either Ondo or Imo states. Am aware that as at June 2018, Akwa Ibom, Delta, Rivers and Bayelsa produced 90.1% of Nigeria’s total crude oil. But the production varies and is not static. As at last year for example, the graph shows that 1. Akwa Ibom produced 504,000 barrels per day (1st), Delta – 346,000 bpd (2nd), Rivers – 344,000 bpd (3rd), Bayelsa – 290,000 bpd (4th), Ondo – 60,000 bpd (5th), Lagos – 40,000 bpd (6th), Edo – 33,000 bpd (7th), Imo – 17, 000 bpd (8th) and Abia – 11,000 bpd (9th). Oil wells in Cross River were ceded to Akwa Ibom after Cameroun took over Bakassi.
Of interest, it is one local government, the Ilaje Local Government out of the 18 local government in Ondo state that produces oil and they have capable sons and daughters who can represent them in the NDDC outfit.
Ilaje local government area of Ondo State lies along the Atlantic coast of Nigeria and is situated 133km south of Akure, the state capital. The entire area lies between Longitude 4°28′ and 5°1′ east of the Greenwich Meridian and Latitude 5°51′ and 6°21′ north of the Equator. It is bounded in the southwest by Ogun Water-Side Local Government Area, Ogun State, and in the southeast by Warri-West local Government Area, Delta State. The northwest and the northeast are bordered by Okitipupa local Government Area and Ese-Odo Local Government Area respectively, both in Ondo State. The local government is made up of about one hundred small towns and villages with the prominent ones including Igbokoda, the local government headquarters, Mahin, Ayetoro, Ugbo-Nla, and Zion-Pepe. The 1991 population census of the Federal Republic of Nigeria puts the population of the area at about 270,000. The coastal part of the local government, which forms about 70 percent of the total land area consists mainly of mangrove swamps and rivers, and is flooded during raining season. There are four segments in Ilaje— Ugbo, Mahin, Etikan and Aheri. Ugbo Land is the only Oil Producing area in Ilaje Local Government that is producing oil.
Asking for chairman or Managing Director or Executive Director by Ondo and Imo states in the NDDC is a legitimate demand and the President should consider the request.