By Chisom Onuoha
The organization of Ibibio youths in Akwa Ibom State under the aegis of Ibibio Youth Council (IYC), has criticized the recent protests against the appointment of Mr. Effiong Okon Akwa, as the Sole Administrator of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), saying that the protest was not in the best interest of all the stakeholders in the region.
IYC went on to expressed their full support for Mr Akwa’s appointment and charged him to ensure that the mandate for which NDDC was instituted in the first place is implemented through his works.
In a statement signed by its President, Comrade Imoh Steven Okoko, and made available to Newsmen in Abuja on Wednesday 23 December 2020, IYC lashed at those that called for the removal of the appointee, saying their call was driven by sheer sentiments.
The statement in part read: “As Ibibio youths, we wish to declare that the call for the reconstitution of a substantive board for the Commission is welcome but its degeneration into protests which could eventually culminate in the destruction of precious lives and property is detestable.
“While we are not disputing the fact that successive leaderships of the Interventionist agency have failed to fulfil the mandate for which the Commission was established, we strongly believe that, if properly conducted, the ongoing forensic audit will help to re-position the agency to effectively carry out its mandate. In the interim, the Commission needs the support of all well-meaning Niger Deltans to succeed and not destructive criticisms and actions.
“However, we have observed that most of the reasons advanced by the protesting individuals and groups are coloured with ethnic sentiments and parochial interests rather than the consideration of the development and general well-being of the region.
“From our own investigations and assessment, the appointee – Mr. Effiong Akwa possesses a reasonable wealth of academic, professional, administrative and managerial expertise, experience and pedigree to run the affairs of the Commission in the interim, until an authentic board is put in place.
“We wish to say that the clamour for Mr. Akwa’s removal is not that he is not fit for the position, but simply because he is an Akwa Ibom State indigene. Protests by Ijaw youths over appointees from Akwa Ibom State since the establishment of the Commission has become a recurring decimal. The appointments of Engr. Udo Mboso (the pioneer Exec. Director, Projects), Ambassador Sam Edem, Mr. Bassey Dan-Abia, Mr. Nsima Ekere, etc were all greeted with protests as if our State which is the largest producer of crude oil is no longer part of the niger delta region.
“We wish to recall that the list of nominees for the Board of the NDDC that was earlier sent by the Presidency and screened by the Senate was tainted with some irregularities and this was observed and pointed out by some concerned stakeholders, including the Governors from the region based on the fact the list did not follow the rotational arrangements as specified in the Act.
“For instance, prior to the presentation of the list, Akwa Ibom State had produced the Executive Director, Projects more than twice since the Commission was established and to have another nominee from the State for the same position was not justifiable, rather the State was supposed to present a candidate for the position of Executive Director, Finance and Administration. Besides, from the zoning principle as stated in the NDDC Act, the nominee was not qualified since he was not from a core oil producing area of the State. Thus, most of the nominees were not selected based on the provisions of the NDDC Act.”
The IYC President also said that the appointment of the sole administrator should rather be seen as a welcome development than a call for crisis as the Commission cannot exist without a head.
“Since the Interim Management Committee had been sacked by the Court, and the setting up of a new Board must follow due process – presentation of the list, screening, and formal inauguration which of course is not a day’s exercise, the appointment of a Sole Administrator, should therefore be seen as a welcome development, as the Commission cannot be allowed to exist in a vacuum, but must have a leadership. Instead of fighting among ourselves, our demand should be for the Presidency to expedite action on the reconstitution of a new board – forwarding a new or updated list of nominees for the reconstitution of a substantive board.
“In the interim, we hereby call on all youths of the Niger Delta region to give the Sole Administrator a chance, and the necessary support and also work effectively with him to see whether or not he will be able to meet the expectations and yearnings of the people.
“In our part, we hereby felicitate with the Interim Administrator on his recent meritorious appointment by President Muhammadu Buhari and urge him to work hard to restore the confidence the Presidency and the niger people have in him”, Okoko added.