A civil rights group, Niger Delta United Congress (NDUC), has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to ignore ethnic champions in the Niger Delta region and keep to his promise to institute governing board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
In a statement jointly signed by its President, Ebizomor Brisibe, and Secretary, Edem Archibong, the group said that following the submission of the NDDC forensic audit report to President Buhari.
“The inauguration of the Board of the Niger Delta Development Commission should not be delayed any further, certainly not by the meddlesomeness of fringe ethnic champions who are working to delay the progress of our region.”
The group noted said there were people recruited by persons keen to continue the current aberration of the sole administratorship in the NDDC “by orchestrating a crisis through campaigns for persons of their ethnic extraction to be appointed into the board.”
According to it, “specifically, the recent claim by Rita Lori-Ogbebor that only someone from her Itsekiri tribe is eligible for appointment into the board as a representative of Delta State is provocative, anarchical and insulting to other ethnic groups.”
The NDUC said there is a board earlier nominated by President Buhari in October 2019, confirmed by Senate on November 5, 2019 and awaiting inauguration.
The group said the Niger Delta has endured the abuse of the NDDC Act by the appointment of interim management committees and a sole administrator “who are not fully representative of the constituent states, and have carried on without regard for due process.”
It therefore noted that the subsisting NDDC Act does not recognise ethnicity as a basis for appointing its board, insisting:
“To project ethnicity is a call to disharmony and anarchy. The makers of the NDDC Act in their wisdom clearly avoided this path which can only lead to conflicts and hate in the States of the Niger Delta region.”
Quoting sections of the NDDC Act, it pointed out that Part 1, Section 2(1) B requires a member of the NDDC Governing Board to come from an “oil producing area.”
It said, “an area is a definite geographical space bound by its recognition in the constitution as an administrative space. Thus, an area can be a state, a local government area or a senatorial district.”
The group said that in the context of the NDDC Act, “an oil producing area is coterminous with an oil producing local government area. All indigenes of oil producing local government Areas in the Niger Delta states are eligible.
Nobody can be excluded on the basis of tribe as long as he or she is from an oil producing local government area.”
NDUC therefore called on President Buhari to direct the inauguration of the Senate-confirmed
NDDC board without further delay, as “this will enable all Niger Deltans to direct our energies to the great work of developing our region through the NDDC.”
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