BY SEGUN ADEBAYO, ABUJA – Niger Delta stakeholders on Thursday accused the minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio ‘telling and churning out serial and unsubstantiated lies’ in his grand design to appropriate and control the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).”
This stakeholders, led by Chief Demiebi Jackson declared that the statement credited to Akpabio, portions of which were reported in The Nation Newspaper of Tuesday, December 10, 2019 and Niger Delta Today, an online newspaper, where he said it was Bayelsa State’s turn to produce the MD of NDDC has been knocked off as part of the plan to create crisis amongst the people of the region.
Jackson noted that Akpabio is merely working so hard to sow seeds of discord amongst the people in order to advance his agenda following opposition to the illegal Interim Management Committee which he set up without any legal backing.
Akpabio was quoted to have said; “We have not had two full years of Managing Director for Bayelsa. We have had Engr. Godwin Omene staying as MD of NDDC for almost four full years. We have had Hon Emmanuel Aguariavwodo from Delta serving as MD for almost three years. So, it is not the turn of Delta.”
In their reaction, the Niger Delta Stakeholders said that fact-check clearly shows that Akpabio lied, stressing that public records from the NDDC indicate that after Delta State produced the MD for a total of five years, Bayelsa State held the MD position thereafter.
According to the Stakeholders; “From the records, Engr Godwin Omene was MD at inception from 2001 to 2003 when he resigned. Then, Timi Alaibe from Bayelsa State, who was the ED Finance and Admin, stepped in as Acting MD until Emmanuel Aguariavwodo was appointed to complete Delta State’s term. Aguariavwodo was MD from 2003-2006. Timi Alaibe again stepped in as Acting MD. Alaibe was subsequently confirmed as MD in 2006 and held the position until 2009, representing Bayelsa State.
“Thereafter, Rivers State produced the MD with Chibuzor Ugoha from 2009 to 2011 and Chris Oboh from 2011 to 2013. Akwa Ibom was next with Dan Abia from 2013 to 2015 and Nsima Ekere from 2016 to 2018. It is now the turn of Delta State, following the rotational policy for the MD position among the four major oil producing states.
One of the Stakeholders, Chief Demiebi asked; “Where then is the truth in Akpabio’s claim that Bayelsa State has not had two full years as MD? Not only is the minister’s claim that Bayelsa State has not held the position for long untrue, the claim that Omene spent four years is also untrue, because Omene spent just two years, from 2001 to 2003. Agwariavwodo spent three years, from 2003 to 2006, bringing the total for Delta State to about five years.”
The stakeholders said that since Delta State is entitled to both the MD and the Chairman of the NDDC, it should be given both or be allowed to make a choice which should be a prerogative of Delta State to decide.
The group warned that Akpabio should not try to make an issue out of the matter just to execute his personal agenda.
It further said; “Otherwise, how is it an issue that a state which is due to have both positions of Chairman and MD is being vilified for opting for the MD position. Indeed, Akpabio’s statement on the choice made by Delta State when he said that Delta State opted for the ‘bigger position’ contradicts his own statement that Delta State should not produce the MD based on tenure.
“It has exposed the lies in his many excuses since the new NDDC board was duly confirmed by the Senate and confirms his inordinate interest in the NDDC, contrary to the claims he made in the newspapers.”
The Niger Delta Stakeholders said the position of the MD has been rotated round all the four major oil producing states adding that it is now the turn of Delta State to produce the MD, stressing that nothing should be done to shortchange the State.