President Buhari of Nigeria

By Onome Oghenetega

As controversy continue to trail the composition of the new board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) by President Muhammadu Buhari, the Itsekiri Oil Mineral Producing Communities (IOMPC) has faulted the composition of the new board, saying the appointment breached the act establishing the commission.

The group specifically frowned at the appointment of Dr. Pius Odubu, Olorogun Bernard Okumagba and Prophet Jones Erue as the commission’s Chairman, Managing Director and Commissioner representing Delta State respectively on the board.

IOMPC, an umbrella body for Itsekiri oil bearing communities in Delta State, said it was the turn of Itsekiri ethnic nationality to produce either of the three positions – chairman, MD or the Delta Commissioner.

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In a statement on Thursday signed by its Chairman, Mr. Edward Omagbemi; Secretary, Deacon Gabriel Meni and,  Patron, Rev. Dr Jackson Ireyefoju posited that Urhobos haven produced the Managing Director of the commission twice it was the turn of Itsekiri Nation to head the it.

It claimed that Itsekiri being the ‘highest oil producing ethnic nationality’ in the state should be allowed to produce the next MD of the commission in the interest of fairness and justice.

A copy of the statement mailed to WARRI TODAY, the group called on President Buhari to reshuffle the nomination list and ensure that the law establishing the commission was rigidly followed in the interest of peace and justice in the region.

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On the appointment of Dr Pius Odubu, IOMPC said, “After establishing the Governing Board of the Commission in section 2 of the Act, section 4 is categorical that the office of the Chairman shall rotate amongst the nine member states of the commission in the following Alphabetical order: Abia, Akwa-Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Imo, Ondo and, Rivers States

“Following this arrangement, Chief OnyemaUgochukwu of Abia State became the first Chairman, followed by Chief Sam ldem from Akwa-Ibom. When he was removed in 2007, Mr. Dan Abia also from Akwa — Ibom was appointed chairman to complete the tenure of Akwa-lbom in 2009. Air Commodore Larry Koinyan(Rtd) of Bayelsa State was appointed Chairman.

“When he was removed after two years, Mr. TarilaTebepah, a Bayelsa State indigene was appointed as chairman to complete the tenure of Bayelsa State. In 2013, Mr. Bassey Henshaw an indigene of Cross River State was appointed Chairman of the Board and when he was removed in 2015, another indigene of Cross-River State, Senator NdomaEgba (SAN) was appointed in 2016 and he occupied the seat till 2019.

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“It follows from the above, that it is the turn of Delta State to produce the next Chairman of the Board. The rotatory arrangement specified in the Act establishing the commission has never been breached. The appointment of Dr. Pius Odubu from Edo State is therefore a breach of the provisions of the Act and should be corrected now by the appointment of a Deltan from oil producing area.”

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The group accused some chieftains of the ruling All Progressives Party (APC) from Delta and Edo States for allegedly spearheading what it terms “illegality, immorality and corruption” on the appointment.

While similarly faulting the appointment of Olorogun Bernard Okumagb and Prophet Jones Erue (current APC chairman in Delta State), the group warned that appointments into NDDC in Delta State should not be made exclusive right of the Urhobos and Isoko ethnic nationalities.

The statement said further, “We, the indigenes of Itsekiri oil and gas producing communities of Delta State reject, ccondemn and also find the recent announcement of the composition of the Board of Niger Delta Development  Commission as it affects Delta State unacceptable and see it as a slap on our face.

“The nomination of Mr Bernard Okumagba from Delta State as the Managing Director is not only repoignant but also provocative. Although Mr Okumagba is from Warri, he is an Urhobo from Okere Urhobo area of  Warri.

“He is not from an oil and gas producing or impacted community. Aside from that, Urhobo in Delta State have been Managing Director twice and an Executive Director once in the 17years history of NDDC. They cannot and should not be MD or ED soon again. There are other oil and gas producing ethnic nationalities with higher quantum in the State. Itsekiri the highest producer In Delta State have only been an ED for one and half years.

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“By NDDC law, alphabetically it is the turn of the Delta State oil producing area to produce the Chairman. In terms of quantum production, Itsekiri should be the Managing Director of NDDC now.

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“The recent announcement of the composition of the Board of the Niger Delta Development Commission is marginalization and oppression taken too far. For the avoidance of doubt, we vehemently condemn the appointments of Dr. Pius Odubu, Mr, Bernard Okumagba and Prophet Jones Erue as the next Chairman, Managing Director and Delta State Representative respectively of the interventionist agency.”

IOMPC , while decrying the appointments, lamented that Itsekiri people are angry that they had been once again been shortchanged  despite their contribution to the revenues accruing from oil and gas production in the country.

“So far Itsekiri are angry, disappointed and feel short changed by the NDDC since it was set up. Itsekiri nationality is second highest producer of oil and gas in Nigeria and highest producer of oil and gas in Delta State. Itsekiri  harbor the largest tank farm of the American giant Chevron in Ugborodo, an Itsekiri town and several oil facilities, yet they have been continuously neglected and overlooked.

“The oil and gas producing communities of Itsekiri do not have good motorable roads and are suffering from systematic marginalization, abject poverty, devasted environment and lack of meaningful development in spite of years of oil and gas exploration and exploitation in the area, because they have not had the opportunity of being at the helms of affairs of the intervention agency”, the statement added.


2 COMMENTS

  1. Why are my Itsekiris brothers always the spoilers of every good thing that comes to Warri and Urhobo people? If Itsekiri villages that are oil beating are suffering from underdevelopment, you need to ask your leader and king the Olu of Itsekiri, chief Ayiri, and co who have overtime enjoyed all that is meant for you all! Itsekiri man became the governor of Delta state when they didn’t deserve it for 8 years and Urhobo made it so. APC and Buhari was rejected by Itsekiri tribe but Urhobo voted for Buhari and its time to enjoy the Buhari govt and guess who the enemy is… Itsekiri. You guys are jokers. If the Itsekiri man has his way he would lobby for DSP Ovie Omo Agege to be removed from position… Stop the hate and.be humble.

    • I can’t believe that after you read their reason behind the objection you still feel Itsekiris are the biased ones. Even if an Urhobo group could present such logical statements, I will support them, but no your tribalism won’t allow you consider equity as regards the provision in the law of the said body.

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