By Uche Amunike
President Muhammadu Buhari has appointed fourteen Niger Development Delta Commission (NDDC) board members, placing his former media aide, Lauretta Onochie as Chairman of the board.
This is coming, three years after the last board chairman, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba, who was appointed in 2016 was dropped by the president in January 25, 2019.
Recall that before the new list of NDDC board members was forwarded to the Senate by President Buhari, Onochie was a national commissioner nominee of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), but was rejected because her state of origin, Delta, already produced a commissioner in the electoral body.
Stakeholders consider her position as new head of the NDDC board members as a probable compensatory appointment for her ordeal, ever since she was unaccepted by the Senate for the INEC appointment.
The NDDC was established by the administration of former Nigerian President, Olusegun Obasanjo to speed up the development of the Niger Delta region which is known for its richness in crude oil.
Past Chairmen of the NDDC were Chief Onyema Ugochukwu from Abia state, Air Vice Marshal Larry Koinyan (rtd) from Bayelsa State, including Cross River state born Senators Ewa-Henshaw and Victor Ndola-Egba.
President Buhari, in a letter addressed to the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, announced the following names as some of the NDDC board members:
- Chairman – Laureta Ifeanyi Onochie (Delta, South-South)
- Dimgba Erugba State representative (Abia, South-East)
- Dr Ene Wilcox (Akwa Ibom, State Representative, South-South)
- Dr Pius Odudu (Edo, South-South)
- Hon.Gbenga Odegba (Ondo, South-West)
- Engr. Anthony Ekene (Imo, South-East)
- Onyekachi Dimgba (Rivers, South-South)
- Alhaji Mohammed Kabiru Abubakar (Zonal Representative, Nasarawa)
- Professor Tallen Mamma, SAN (North-East Representative, Adamawa)
- Sodique Sani (North-West, Zonal Representative)
- Chief Dr. Samuel Ibukun (MD)
- General Charles Ehigie Airhiavbere (Rtd) (Executive of Finance)
- Charles Ogunmola (Executive Director Project, South-West)
Part of the letter read: ‘Dear Distinguished Senate President, confirmation of appointments of Chairman and members of the Niger Delta Development Commission.’
‘In accordance with the provisions of Section 2(2) A of the NDDC Act, Cap N86, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004, I hereby present the underlisted 15 names of nominees as Chairman and members of the NDDC for confirmation by the Senate. Copies of their Curriculum Vitae are attached herewith.’
‘While I hope the request would receive the usual expeditious consideration, and confirmation of the Senate, please accept, the Distinguished Senate President, the assurances of my highest consideration.’
The Deputy Senate President, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege pointed out that Delta State was not well represented on the board as read during plenary, just as Senator Thompson Sekibo of Rivers state pointed out that the Senate already screened and confirmed in 2020, yet President Buhari was yet to inaugurate the board members till now.
Senate President Lawan assured Omo Agege that the issue would be brought to the notice of the executive before the parliament would commence screening, giving assurances that Senator Sekibo’s concerns would also be addressed.