Composition of NDDC Board: Niger Delta NGO sues FG

A Non-Governmental-Organisation (NGO), Incorporated Trustees of Concerned Niger Delta Youth Initiative (CNDYI) has dragged the federal government before the Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State over the composition of the Board and Management of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

Federal Government, it would be recalled, recently announced the new Board and Management on NDDC.

Copies of the originating processes of the suit obtained listed the Attorney General of the Federation, the National Assembly, the governments of Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta and Rivers states as codefendants.

The group, in an affidavit setting out the facts of the suit, said the recent composition of the NDDC Board was contrary to the law which sets up the commission.

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CNDI President, Mr Orubebe Ebis Zenebo, in the affidavit deposed  by him through his Lagos- based lawyer, Mr George Turnah, said the law which sets up the commission stipulated that the chairmanship of the Governing Board shall rotate in alphabetical order amongst member states of the Commission, while the Managing  Director and the two Executive Directors shall rotate amongst member states in order of oil production, beginning with the member state with the highest production quantum.

The group, therefore, demanded that the appointments announced by the Federal Government be reversed as it was against the laws that set up the Commission.

Amongst the several Court papers issued out by his lawyer, the plaintiff is also seeking a restraining order through an interlocutory application, restraining the president and the National Assembly from taking any further steps with respect to the appointments, pending the determination of the substantive suit, which by order of the court, has been fixed for hearing on Wednesday, September 12th, 2019.

Court papers revealed that the crux of the matter is the appointment of Mr Pius Odubu from Edo State as Chairman and Hon. Bernard Okumagba from Delta State as Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission respectively.

The argument has been that it is the turn of Delta State to produce the Chairman of the Board of the NDDC, while Bayelsa State is to produce the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer.

According to record, the Commission started in 2000 with Ugochuku Onyema from Abia State as Chairman and Godwin Omene from Delta State as Managing Director.

“Section 4 of the Act establishing the Commission states clearly that the office of the chairman shall rotate amongst member states in alphabetical order; and Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa and Cross River states have produced the Chairman of the Board of the Commission at different times, it should now be the turn of Delta State to produce the Chairman and not Edo State where Pius Odubu hails from,” CNDI said.

There’s also the argument that Delta, Rivers and Akwa Ibom states having produced at different times, substantive Managing Directors of the Commission with full tenure and term, it should now be the turn of Bayelsa State to produce the Managing Director of the Commission,  being the fourth-largest producer of oil in the Region.

Section 12 (1) of the NDDC Act, specifically states that the position of the Managing Director and the Two Executive Directors shall rotate amongst member States in order of production quantum of oil.

The argument, therefore, is that Delta State having produced two substantive Managing Directors who jointly enjoyed two terms, covering the tenure of two Governing Boards, can no longer occupy the position of the Managing Director of the Commission until all the remaining member states, beginning with Bayelsa State, yet to occupy the office of the Managing Director, has done so in order of production quantum.

The NGO maintained that it was wrong, illegal and unlawful for Delta State to get the position of the Managing Director again, when Bayelsa and the other member states were yet to occupy the office of the Managing Director of the Commission, and that it was also wrong, illegal and unlawful for Edo State to get the position of the Chairman of the Commission when Delta State which is next in alphabetical order after Cross River State, has not held the position of the chairman.

The hearing has been fixed for Wednesday, September 12, 2019.

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