Reverse Your Nomination Of MD NDDC, Delta Ijaws Tell Buhari

The Ijaws in Delta state have rejected the Nomination of Mr Bernard Okumagba into the Board of the NDDC.

In
a statement sighted by LeadersNG, they are calling on President
Muhammadu Buhari and the National Assembly to put into consideration the
rotational arrangement as prescribed by the NDDC Act of 2000 Section 12
(1)

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See Statement Below:

The Ijaws in Delta
state wish to strongly notify President Mohammadu Buhari and the
National Assembly (the Senate and the House of Representatives) that the
nomination of Bernard Okumagba, of the Urhobo extraction of Delta state
as the Managing Director (MD) in the new Niger Delta Development
Commission (NDDC) board, instead of an Ijaw nominee from Delta state has
been rejected in its entirety. This is unacceptable to us and it is a
clear indication of oppression, injustice and the alienation of Ijaws in
Delta state by the present administration. We state this without fear
or favour that any executive position meant for Delta State should be
given to the Ijaws as it is our due turn, in line with the rotational
arrangement as prescribed by the NDDC Act of 2000 Section 12 (1) which
states that “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”. The emphasis on the rotation within member states
with the highest production quantum of oil is to ensure equity, justice
and fairness in states like Delta state where there are more than one
ethnic group producing oil.

The Ijaw riverine communities are the
highest producers of oil and gas in the region, and by consequence, the
highest revenue generators in Nigeria. We also bear the brunt of the
pollution, degradation and environmental impacts of the oil and gas
exploration, production and transportation. In spite of our enormous
contributions and sacrifices, we are still the most underdeveloped part
of Nigeria. The NDDC, which is an offspring of the Niger Delta struggle,
was birthed as an interventionist agency to cater for the
oil-bearing/impacted communities from age-long neglect. Though all
members of the region contributed to the struggle, the Ijaws, without
any iota of doubt, sacrificed and contributed the most to the struggle.
Ijaws sacrificed the blood of their children to agitate for the creation
of the NDDC and were tagged all sorts of names in the process. We were
called militants, trouble makers, armed robbers, barbarians, and all
sorts, but today, forces that are against the progress of Ijaws are
gradually scheming to erase us out of the equation, and prevent us from
enjoying the dividends of the struggle. From the time of state creation,
the Ijaws have always been prejudiced because of our geographic
location and the crude oil God blessed us with. Ijaws are balkanize in
bits in almost all the states in the Niger Delta and in all these states
we have been maliciously distributed as minorities (except Bayelsa
state), though we generate the highest revenue from our God-given crude.
As minorities, we suffer oppression, have very weak political voices
and tiny political space for survival. As a result, the 13% derivation
accruing to the state treasury directly from our soil and waters are
also used to develop other non-oil producing areas with plenty political
powers. We are the fourth largest ethnic group in Nigeria with no
strength and have been forced in the past to thread the path of violent
agitation to get what is due to us or wait for the leftovers of others.
This injustice and blatant disregard for the legitimate rights of the
Ijaws in Delta state is unacceptable and we will resist it with
everything God has empowered us with.

We want to remind President
Mohammadu Buhari and the members of the National Assembly that the
provisions of the NDDC Act has been followed judiciously by previous
governments to the last letter and we the Ijaws in Delta state will
resist with everything in us the attempt by this present administration
to go against the NDDC Act to oppress our people and deprive us of what
is due to us. For emphasis, we have taken time to explain the
representation of Deltans on the NDDC board by their ethnicity, from
inception to date. In the first NDDC board (2000 – 2004) that had Prof.
V.F Peretomode (Ijaw) as the state rep, Godwin Omene (Urhobo) was the
MD. Gowin Omene (Urhobo) was later replaced in 2002 with Emmanuel
Agwariavwodo (Urhobo) in the first board. Emmanuel Agwariavwodo (Urhobo)
was however reappointed in the second board (2005 – 2008) as the MD
while Chief Emmanuel Ogidi (Isoko) served as the state rep. Agwariavwodo
(Urhobo) resigned to contest the Delta state gubernatorial election,
and this made Timi Alaibe (Bayesla), the then EDFA to step in as the
acting MD and Pastor P.Z Aginighan (Ijaw) the then Director of Finance
and Supplies step in as acting EDFA respectively. In the third board
(2009 – 2011), Chibuzor Ugwocha (Rivers) was the MD and Pastor P.Z
Agnighan (Ijaw) was confirmed as substantive EDFA with Chief Solomon
Ogba (Isoko) as the state rep. This board was sacked half-way and people
from same state were appointed to continue the third board with the
same rotational arrangement from 2011 – 2012. This reconstituted board
had Konboye Lambert (Ijaw) serving as the EDFA while Chief Solomon Ogba
(Isoko) was retained again as the state rep. In the fourth board (2013 –
2015), Tuoyo Omatsuli (Itsekiri) was the EDP while Chief Tom Amioku
(Urhobo) was the state rep. The fourth board was reconstituted in 2015
and it had Samuel Adjogbe (Urhobo) as the EDP and Ogaga Ofowodo (Isoko)
as the state rep. The fifth board which is this current nomination that
the Ijaws in Delta state are rejecting in its entirety has Prophet Jones
Erue (Isoko) as the state rep and Bernard Okumagba (Urhobo) as the MD.
From the foregoing, it is crystal clear that the Ijaws in Delta state
have been undermined and are maliciously being schemed out of the NDDC
equation. The Urhobos in Delta state have occupied executive position
four times and appointing another Urhobo man as the MD is a sign of
oppression and marginalization of the Ijaws. The MD position must come
to the Ijaws in Delta state as it is our due turn in accordance to the
NDDC Act of 2000 12 (1) which states that “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”. After all, the
Ijaws produce over 50% of the total oil and gas in Delta state.

As
a matter of utmost urgency, we want to remind the government of the day
that the NDDC Act has been religiously followed in the setting up of
previous boards until this ugly aberration by some overzealous
politicians. It would interest you to note that similar nomination
blunder was committed during the setting up of the outgoing board in
2016. Nominees from Imo, Ondo and Abia states were rejected on the
grounds that it contradicts the NDDC Act but President Mohammadu Buhari
was very quick to make amends, thus significantly maintaining the peace
in the region and averting serious fundamental security and
developmental threats. The President had to nullify the former
nominations and fresh nominations of Lucky Orimiso (Ondo), Chukwa Anwawa
(Imo) and Nwogu Nwogu (Abia), were made by the President to the
National Assembly in March 2017 as “replacement of those that were
rejected for not representing the oil producing areas of their
respective states.” We are therefore demanding same in this situation.
We enjoin the government of the day as a matter of urgency to please
present fresh nomination from the Delta Ijaw extraction for the position
of the MD to ensure peace, fairness and equity is maintained in the
region. Again, we seriously appeal to the Buhari administration to do
diligent consultation as done before setting up previous boards to keep
the ethnic balances intact. It is of utmost importance that President
Mohammadu Buhari and the National Assembly listens to the voice of
reason to not complicate our sufferings by deliberately sidelining and
suffocating us in the scheme of things. A situation where one major
player is deliberately trampled on and sidelined after cooperating with
existing protocols and have humbly waited for their due turn will surely
breed bad blood amongst us. Enough is enough.

Signed:
Chief Ebipade Gbegha (Chairman)

Ogbein Zidideke (Secretary)

Western Ijaw Consultative Assembly. No. 4 Suto street Bomadi, Delta State

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