Anxiety over the true intentions of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu about the biggest intervention agency in Nigeria, the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), has ebbed.
This is because the newly appointed managing director, Samuel Ogbuku has not only survived the mass dissolution of boards in Nigeria but has managed to know the mind of the president.
Conveying Tinubu’s mind at an interactive session with the staff of the Commission in Port Harcourt, the MD said President Tinubu has charged the Commission to do more to develop the Niger Delta region and impact positively on the lives of the people, according to a statement by Ibitoye Abosede, Director, Corporate Communications.
According to Abosede, the MD, Ogbuku, said that he was given “New Commandments” when he visited the President recently at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
He said that the President expressed disappointment at the level of underdevelopment in the Niger Delta region and the performance of the NDDC as an interventionist agency in the oil-rich region. According to him, President Tinubu decried the mismanagement of resources of the Niger Delta region and directed the management team to return to the Commission and ensure that a new NDDC emerged.
The NDDC boss said that President Tinubu was anxious to reposition the NDDC to ensure that it worked in the interest of the people of the region, stating: “I made a pledge to President Tinubu that all resources at the Commission’s disposal will be judiciously utilized to increase and improve the impact of the NDDC in the region.”
Speaking further, he clarified that it was only the NDDC Governing Board that was dissolved by the directive of the Federal Government, while the Commission’s Management team, consisting of the NDDC’s Managing Director, the Executive Director Finance and Administration as well as the Executive Director Projects remained intact.
He announced that the Commission was planning to engage a multinational professional services consultant, KPMG to help the Commission set up a viable and sustainable Corporate Governance structure.
In his own remarks, the NDDC Executive Director, Projects, Charles Ogunmola, noted that the management was setting up new units to facilitate the ease of doing business with the Commission. He identified the proposed new units as Due Process Unit, Corporate Governance Unit, and Contractor Support Unit.
Speaking on behalf of the staff, the Chairman of NDDC Staff Union, Anthony Gbendo, appealed to the management to expedite action on the staff conditions of service, which he noted was long overdue for approval.
The MD, who resumed in January 2023, after being nominated in December 2023, seemed relieved for retaining his position.
Anxiety was high when a new president resumed but it came to boiling point when President Tinubu sacked all boards two days ago. Clarification soon came that two organisations were exempted but the NDDC was not mentioned.
Relief however came when a letter flew in from the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs asking the CEO, Ogbuku (PhD) to continue doing his work, along with two other executive directors.
All other directors and the entire board led by Laretta Onochie were flushed. Onochie had been in a running battle with Ogbuku. That seems to have ended.
Now, a statement from Ibitoye Abosode, Director of Public Affairs of Commission Wednesday evening said; “The Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs has directed the Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Dr Samuel Ogbuku, to continue to oversee the affairs of the Commission until a new board is constituted by the President and Commander-in Chief of the Armed Forces.
“This directive was contained in a letter dated June 21, 2023, signed by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, Dr Shuaib Belgore, and addressed to the NDDC Managing Director/CEO.
“The Permanent Secretary stated; ‘Following the termination of the Boards of Federal Government Parastatals by the President on June 19, 2023, with the exception of Councils and Commissions listed in the Third Schedule, Part 1, Section 152 (1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended, I write to inform you of this directive.’”
The letter from the Ministry went on: “Consequently, you are to oversee the affairs of the NDDC until a new board is constituted by the President and Commander-in Chief of the Armed Forces. All official correspondences requiring the attention of the President should be routed through the office of the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, who will further liaise with the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation for necessary action.”
Belgore further directed: “You are required to provide weekly report on your financial and procurement activities for onward transmission to the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.