Former Bayela Governor, Timipre Silva and current Minister of State for Agriculture, Heineken Lokpobiri have been fingered as the brains behind the quite desperate moves to unseat the present Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, board way before its tenure should elapse under the law. While Silva is permuted to be angling for the ministerial slot of Bayelsa in view of the much speculated reboot of the President Muhammadu Buhari cabinet, Lokpobiri, on his part, seemingly jittery about being without a job if and when his boss, Silva takes his current one for himself, apparently wants to be the next NDDC Managing Director/CEO. While the duo have done little, if anything, to counter the allegations, those believed to be their errand boys have flown completely off the handle, claiming the present board was appointed to complete the tenure of its predecessor and that its tenure expires this December, all the while accusing President Buhari of corruption unless he sacks it!
The very idea that President Buhari would have appointed the likes of Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba, and Nsima Ekere simply to complete the tenure of the Senator Ewa-Henshaw board that was sacked is quite mindboggling to me and says more about the rather unfortunate mindsets of those canvassing such a position than anything even remotely legal, reasonable or realistic. That one of the most brilliant senators we’ve ever had, a legal luminary and member of the Inner Bar, in the person of Ndoma-Egba or a top rate technocrat, and the highly cerebral former Governor of Akwa-Ibom, in the person of Ekere would have been drafted basically for a stint at bench-warming at the NDDC is as much an insult to these gentlemen and their other eminent colleagues on the board, as much as it represents a complete misreading of the mindset and modus of the Buhari administration.
President Buhari cobbled together the present board for the purpose of engendering a renaissance in government’s interface with the people of the Niger Delta. In fact, the core intelligence inherent in the makeup of the board is the need to assemble the right human capital for the purpose of executing the Buhari administration’s federal change agenda at the Niger Deltan level. Senator Ndoma-Egba, Nsima Ekere and their colleagues were brought into the NDDC to be a board truly set apart from all other boards before theirs, to clean up the commission, to begin to do things differently from the putridly messy style of the past and to all together effect such depth of performance on the part of the commission that the difference between an All Progressives Congress. APC board and a People’s Democratic Party, PDP board becomes crystal clear for all to see.
Clearly, it would appear that Timipre Silva and Heneiken Lokpobiri, if indeed they are at the heart of the conspiracy to unseat the board, are of the mistaken view that the appointments of all those on the present board was just another swath of “jobs for the boys”, in which case, in their opinion, Mr. President, the ultimate anti-corruption icon, couldn’t find anything better to do for the Niger Delta than to merely give the likes of Ndoma-Egba and Ekere, of all people, something from which to eat! In reasoning in this most deplorable fashion, the traducers of the Ndoma-Egba/Ekere board have only succeeded in revealing that though in APC, they still chronically suffer from a hangover they acquired while in the PDP where “jobs for the boys” was the order of the day and in which the basic philosophy of distributing appointments was strictly beholden to considerations of where party members could “eat” from rather than from where they may could be best positioned to contribute to national development.
Being characters with nothing g to offer our people of the Niger Delta, these men are apparently of the opinion that the members of the present board have already “eaten enough” in one year in office and should be given the boot so they can “come and chop”! So confirmed in their “chop-chop” paradigm of governance are these fellows that they have been quite ready to conspire with PDP elements in Bayelsa to undo an APC board, Mr. President appointed for the entire Niger Delta. Thus the present board is under assault from a coalition of daily bread politicians, whose only enduring loyalty is to their stomachs and where it is not, it is then to their pockets.
If indeed, the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation had actually issued the membership of the present board appointment letters that indicated they were merely appointed to complete the tenure of the sacked and much discredited former board, then this was clearly in error on his part, for he had absolutely no basis in law, so to do, under section 5, subsection 3 of the NDDC law which provides that where a vacancy occurs in the membership of the Board it shall be filled by the appointment of a successor to hold office for the remainder of the term of office of his predecessor, so however, that the successor shall represent the same interest and shall be appointed by the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces subject to the confirmation of the Senate in consultation with the House of representatives.
As at when the present board was appointed, there were no vacancies whatsoever in the board for there was no board at all in place! The NDDC was being run by a sole administrator and the present board was thus legally constituted as a brand new and complete change in leadership of the commission. The former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, being not a lawyer, clearly did not also consult with adequate legal counsel in issuing the said letters and his error in law is something to be corrected and most certainly nothing to be deemed capable of superseding the clear provisions of the law. In any case, the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation would appear to have made quite a few mistakes in his time including when he asked the two former Executive Directors in the former board to continue in office even while the board they belonged to had been sacked from office! That the mistake he made by unilaterally pre-abridging the tenure of the board without basis in law, was subsequently corrected by the former acting Secretary to the Government of the Federation is something to be commended.
In any case, a board under the commission’s enabling law may be reappointed for another term of four years and no more. Instructively, the rabble-rousers arrayed against the board, while calling for its head under the pretext that this is what the law demands, has nevertheless opined that even if the board where to be reappointed, such reappointment should not be extended to the Chairman or Managing Director, even though there is no basis in law for such discrimination! Clearly these are the posts being hungrily eyed by their paymasters. Unfortunately for them, the present NDDC board is performing where previous boards woefully failed. I have cautioned elsewhere for those haranguing this board to be careful what they wish for. Anyone targeting appointments in NDDC would do well to let the Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba and Nsima Ekere led board to complete its tenure of four years till 2020 as stipulated in law, so it may leave to make way for them. Yet even at that, I cannot see how either Silva or Lokobiri can be Chairman or Managing Director in the next dispensation for both posts are coming to Delta State according to the law. For now, if anyone cared to ask my opinion, I would project that the present board may well end up performing so creditably well that it is given a fresh mandate to continue post 2020 to finally exit in 2024! Funny enough, such an outcome would actually be on all fours with the law.
Onokpasa, a lawyer, wrote from Warri.