Bola Bolawole: NDDC and mindless marginalisation of Ondo, others

Bola Bolawole: NDDC and mindless marginalisation of Ondo, others

Monday, February 1, 2016 11:49 pm


NDDC headquarters, Harold Dappa Biriye House, Port Harcourt

NDDC headquarters, Harold Dappa Biriye House, Port Harcourt

By Bola Bolawole

It is only in the Nigeria of the People’s Democratic Party where impunity reigned supreme and clearly-stated constitutional provisions were trampled under feet that the mindless marginalization of Ondo, Edo, Imo, Abia (to some extent) and Cross Rivers states in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) could have flourished. Four out of the nine members of the NNDC, namely Delta, Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom, and Rivers (the so-called “Big Four” oil-bearing states) have maintained a vice-like stranglehold over the three key Management positions of the Commission to the total and criminal exclusion of the “Small Five”. This is one instance in a democracy where majority did not carry the vote. Worse than that, it has not been allowed a voice at all! Those who thought this patent miscarriage of justice would be revisited and ameliorated under an APC “CHANGE” administration must have been jolted from their cocoons when Mrs. Ibim Semenitari, erstwhile Commissioner for Information under Gov. Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State and now the Minister of Transportation, was named the new NDDC Managing Director by Buhari. Is this the hand of Amaechi or simply ignorance of the facts by Buhari? Have the oppressed “Small Five” within NDDC slept on their rights, as it were?

NDDC was created by the Olusegun Obasanjo administration on June 5, 2000 with headquarters in Port-Harcourt, Rivers state; it has nine members. But since its creation, only four of the nine have monopolised the key Management positions of Managing Director\CEO, Executive Director (Finance and Administration); and Executive Director (Projects). The four monopolists are Delta, Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom, and Rivers states. Delta has occupied all three positions (total number of years: 15); Bayelsa have been MD and ED,F&A. Total number of years: 8); Akwa Ibom have bagged the ED (Projects) twice and MD\CEO once (Total number of years: 11) while Rivers state have bagged all three positions (Total number of years: 10). The so-called minnows; Ondo, Edo, Imo, Abia, and Cross Rivers have not smelled any of the three positions, not for one fleeting moment.

As for the post of Chairman, which the law stated must be rotated amongst the members in an alphabetical order; this has been scrupulously adhered to. I suspect this to have been so because the post is likely more ceremonial than executive. Two: Obasanjo, who started NDDC, played by the rules. If other presidents who came after him have done likewise, we would not have had the lop-sidedness that have all but vitiated the raison d’être for the NDDC. Three: Following the alphabetical order also favours the so-called “Big Four”. Two of them, namely; Bayelsa and Akwa Ibom, have thus also been Chairman of the NNDC, in addition to their being members of the monopolistic club that has cornered the three Management positions to the total exclusion of the “Small Five” states.

This is callous and breaches all known rules of morality. It is not only unjust but also a sure invitation to anarchy. It is in breach of the provisions of the law setting up the NDDC and stands in clear contradiction of the vision and mission of the Commission. The NDDC’s was established “with the mission of facilitating the rapid, even, and sustainable development of the Niger Delta into a region that is economically prosperous, socially stable, ecologically regenerative, and politically peaceful”. The marginalisation of 5 out of nine member-states negatives this objective.


As for the post of Chairman, which the law stated must be rotated amongst the members in an alphabetical order; this has been scrupulously adhered to. I suspect this to have been so because the post is likely more ceremonial than executive. Two: Obasanjo, who started NDDC, played by the rules. If other presidents who came after him have done likewise, we would not have had the lop-sidedness that have all but vitiated the raison d’être for the NDDC. Three: Following the alphabetical order also favours the so-called “Big Four”. Two of them, namely; Bayelsa and Akwa Ibom, have thus also been Chairman of the NNDC, in addition to their being members of the monopolistic club that has cornered the three Management positions to the total exclusion of the “Small Five” states.

If the top Management positions were this unrepresentative, it is better imagined what the Commission’s staffing, citing of development projects, and contract awards would be! Were the aggrieved states to resort to militancy to press home their demands, the peace of the region; nay, that of Nigeria as a whole, will be breached. One of the NDDC’s mandate is “identifying factors inhibiting the development of the Niger Delta region and assisting the member-states in the formulation and implementation of policies to ensure sound and efficient management of the resources of the … region”; the marginalisation is one of such “inhibiting factors” and redressing the imbalance is one sure way to promote and “assist … even and sustainable development” of NDDC member-states.

Ondo state, being the fifth in the order of “importance” as per the quantum of crude oil produced from its soil, should produce the current MD\CEO of NDDC, rather than Rivers state producing it the second time; the first being in 2009. Interestingly, whereas both Ondo and Rivers are PDP-controlled states, the former is the only NDDC state that gave the APC\Buhari majority votes in the last presidential election. I suspect that the clout of Amaechi and the reticence or hostility of APC leaders from the South-west to Ondo or its governor, Olusegun Mimiko, who is the Chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum, must have cost the state the NDCC plum post. But the South-west APC as well as the Presidency would be making grievous mistakes to politicise or reduce this clear case of fairness and justice to selfish motivations and petty squabbles. I therefore recommend that the APC\Buhari presidency compensate Ondo state for its support in the last presidential election by given it the well-deserved MD\CEO position of NDDC.

Two: The entire political leadership of the South-west must rise up as one man and rally round Ondo to make this fight that of the entire region. Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu should please lead the way. Three: Gov. Segun Mimiko should correctly read the times and put the interest of Ondo people over petty political squabbles by reaching out to the presidency firmly on this issue. Charity, they say, begins from home; therefore, he should mend fences with Tinubu and enlist the full force of the South-west in this fight. He does not need to cross-carpet to do this. Four: This is one task for the energetic, purposeful, and forward-looking new Ooni of Ife. He should waste no time in rallying the entire South-west and robustly engage the presidency. Finally, the other marginalised states should rally round Ondo to call the bluff of the so-called “Big Four” to get justice. The time to act together and shun divide-and-rule is now!

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