News analysis: NDDC Board on the spot market

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  • Ondo APC: Dissolve board, now
  • Next Edition: Media Director confirmed dissolution
  • Media Director: I never said so, not even in your story
  • Old Board: Our tenure was cut short
  • Buhari: Silence is the best answer

Jeremy Obioha

Port Harcourt

 

Was the board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) which was inaugurated in November 2016 meant to complete the tenure of the dissolved board or was it actually appointed on fresh mandate? Was the previous board led by Senator Bassey Ewa Henshaw even supposed to be dissolved without completing the full term? This question can only be answered by the courts in the land.

Presient Muhammadu Buhari had dissolved the board in July 2016 and on November 4, 2016, inaugurated the Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba replacement. Now, by end of 2017, clamour for the new board to make way began.

Ondo kicks

Now, the state that feels in line for the next Managing Director of the Commission, Ondo, has kicked, not satisfied qaiting any longer on the queue.

The Ondo State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has therefore asked President Muhammadu Buhari to dissolve the board. The party made the call on Sunday Febuary 4, 2018, in a statement by its Publicity Secretary, Abayomi Adesanya.

It drew the attention of the president to the fact that the tenure of the current board expired in December and warned against an attempt by the board to overstay its tenure.

The APC said it was aware of some surreptitious moves by “powerful persons at the Presidency” to extend the tenure of the board beyond the December 8, 2017, tenure.

“Any extension of the tenure of the board is unconstitutional and an attempt to give Cross River and Akwa-Ibom states undue advantage of serving for a continuous period of six years as chairman and managing director, respectively, to the detriment of other member states,” the party said in the statement.

“For the fact that it is the turn of Ondo State, as the fifth highest oil producing state in the country, to produce the next managing director of NDDC, President Muhammadu Buhari must compensate the people of Ondo State for their commitment to the party (APC) and the victory of the President in the 2015 presidential election.

“It is on record that of all the nine oil producing states in Nigeria, it was only in Ondo State that President Muhammadu Buhari had an overwhelming victory in the 2015 presidential election and we have not been so compensated,” the APC said.

The party called on Buhari to urgently dissolve the board of the Commission and appoint new and committed party member from Delta as chairman and managing director from Ondo states.

The board members argued that by virtue of sections 2, 3 and 5 of the NDDC Act, they were entitled to four years unbroken tenure from December 16, 2013, to December 15, 2017.

Did media director confirm tenure had expired?

In the heat of this very sensitive, a newspaper said it had interviewed the media director and that the man allegedly confirmed what the agitators demanded, that the tenure of the board has expired. It sounded surprising because public servants let alone spokespersons hardly agree to dabble into political controversies. This is even worse considering that the said director hails from Ondo State, and meanings could be read into anything he said.

Those the director has profusely refutted the media report, the saving grace could be the fact that no single part of the reporting quoted him to have said so. Instead, the contrary was the case.

The report: “The Director, Corporate Affairs to the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Ibitoye Abosede, on Sunday confirmed the tenure of the commission’s governing board had expired.

“Mr Abosede, who was reacting to calls to President Muhammadu Buhari, to dissolve the board, said the issue was not new. The leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ondo State had on Sunday appealed to Mr. Buhari to dissolve the board of the agency.”

“But responding to questions by this newspaper, Mr. Abosede said it was not a new thing to say the tenure of the NDDC board has expired.

“If you are current and if you have been around for more than three to four months, you will know it is not a new thing. There is nothing to talk about,” he said on the telephone.

“The president is the one that appoints and not the NDDC and not me. So it has been more than four months. It is nothing new. They are not saying anything new. That’s my take though. “Are you new? Have you not been in the country all this while? I am sorry to answer that question,” Mr. Abosede said arrogantly.

Media director’s refutal:

“We read with dismay, disappointment and displeasure the sensational and grossly misleading story published on Monday, February 5, 2018, by online medium, The Next Edition, headlined “EXCLUSIVE: NDDC Spokesperson Confirms Board Tenure Expired”, which seeks to create the dubious impression that the Director, Corporate Affairs of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, “confirmed that the tenure of the Governing Board of the Commission had expired.”

“We want to state categorically that at no time during a telephone conversation with the reporter, Mr. Isine Ibanga, did Mr. Abosede say what the headline and lead paragraph purport him to have said and demand the publication of the recording and full transcript of that so-called interview. Indeed, the rest of the report, particularly where Mr. Abosede is quoted by Mr. Ibanga, proves that no such statement was either made, implied or categorically stated.

“The headline for this report was perhaps written before Mr. Ibanga spoke with the Director, Corporate Affairs, and this is sad and far from being professional. “We wish to state that the Commission is fully aware that a suit (FHC/PH/CS/170/2017) has been filed on this matter and Mr. Abosede could, therefore, not have commented on an on-going court proceeding nor make the statement falsely credited to him. That would be subjudice.  “Consequently, we urge the public to disregard the said story.

“While the Commission remains eager and open to engage with the media to provide information necessary for diligent and professional news reporting, we wish to state that truth must remain the bedrock upon which journalism thrives and every society flourishes.” This was signed by the Deputy Dircetor, Corporate Affairs, Mr Chijioke Amu-Nnadi.

Conclusion:

It seems the weapon deployed by those agitating for the rotation is political pressure. This however hardly works with the new chief tenant in Aso Rock who is facing letters from former presidents asking him to quit.