The sweeping changes in the federal civil service caused by the order on tenure of directors have affected the Niger Delta Development commission (NDDC).
Some 13 directors said to have overstayed the eight maximum years have been forced out. This has led to a change in headship of the all-important Corporate Affairs division of the interventionist agency in the oil region which has over N800Bn budget for 2023.
Ibitoye Abosede has vacated as director and head of the Corporate Affairs division to give way to Pius O. Ughakpoteni (both have doctorate degrees).
The takeover took place on the last working day of the week (August 18, 2023), with huge excitement apparent in the air around the first floor of the 12-storey tower at Marine Base in down south part of the Garden City.
The change took place in 12 other offices as 13 directors gave way for new ones.
The FG directive had stated: “In the case of directors, they shall compulsorily retire upon serving eight years on the post. This approval is without prejudice to the relevant provisions of the Public Service Rules, which prescribe 60 years of age and/or 35 years of service for mandatory retirement.”
Insiders said the directive has led to exit of 512 directors who allegedly sat tight contrary to the civil service rule over the years. Sources said the victory in the new push is forcing the rule to be obeyed, rather than who lost out or who benefited. “It means a director will now know when he must vacate the seat and those below them know exactly when to ascend,” a source in Abuja said.
The NDDC is run on the directorate template and the present CEO, Samuel Ogbuku, told newsmen last month that he is bent of allowing the rule operate in the Commission, and that he thus abolished additional directors that emerged without due process as part of restoring sanity in the place where impunity had ruled for decades.
The NDDC began with Anietie Usen (onetime NewsWatch top editor) as the director of corporate affairs before Christy Atako (who one acted as managing director) took over. She was followed Ibitoye Abosede (who has a doctorate degree) and later Chijioke Amu-Nnadi (the poet) who was succeeded by Charles Odili before Abosede bounced back on acting capacity. Now, Pius O. Ughakpoteni has taken over as substantial director and head.
Reacting, the new boss from Ugheli in Delta State said: “To the glory of God, I am writing to share with you some exciting news about my career and the future of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC). As you may know, I have been serving as the Director of New Media at the NDDC since October 2022, after a seven-month stint as the Director of Abuja Liaison Office, leading a team of talented and passionate professionals who have been using digital platforms and tools to communicate the vision, mission, and achievements of the NDDC to the public and stakeholders.”
He added that he felt honored and humbled to announce that he just took over as the new Director of Corporate Affairs following the retirement of Abosede. “This appointment is effective immediately and comes with a new mandate and responsibility.”
He revealed that the New Media Department has been merged with the Corporate Affairs Directorate, creating a unified and integrated function that would oversee all aspects of external and internal communications, stakeholder engagement, reputation management, and brand strategy for the NDDC.
“This is a significant change and a great opportunity for me and my team to leverage our skills and experience to support the NDDC in achieving its goals of facilitating the rapid, even, and sustainable development of the Niger Delta region. I am confident that we have the talent, creativity, and passion to deliver on this mandate and to make a positive impact on the lives of millions of people in the region.”
Ughakpoteni express deep gratitude and appreciation to those who have been very supportive over the years in his different roles before this. “Your encouragement, feedback, collaboration, and friendship have been invaluable to me and have helped me grow personally and professionally. I look forward to continuing our relationship and working together in this new capacity.
“I am excited about this new challenge and I hope you will join me in celebrating this milestone. I welcome your thoughts and suggestions on how we can make the Corporate Affairs Directorate more effective and impactful for the NDDC and the Niger Delta region. Please feel free to reach out to me anytime at [email protected] or on WhatsApp +234 090 99102600.”
Ughakpoteni is a management expert, a skillful writer with insightful and analytical skills, apparently acquired during his many years in journalism practice.
Over a period of 30 years, he has garnered a wealth of experience that spans journalism, management, public relations, and practice-driven research across Nigeria’s private and public sectors, as well as universities in England and Switzerland.
Born on June 26, 1964 in the oil-rich Niger Delta region, precisely in Eruemukohwarien, Ughelli North Local Government Area of Delta State, Ughakpoteni started his academic career as a home boy in St Paul’s Primary School, Ughelli, from where he moved on to the Government College, Ughelli.
That humble beginning has today blossomed and taken Ughakpoteni into the international arena where he is currently a doctoral candidate at Business School Lausanne, Chavannes, Vaud, Switzerland, working on Business Administration, Business Transformation & Entrepreneurship, C-Suite Leadership for Corporate Sustainability Performance Advancement.
His research interests lie at the intersection of leadership, sustainability, innovation, change and strategy implementation. According to him, he is fascinated by collaboration and constructive engagement for change as well as by questions around how to work with top executives to advance corporate sustainability performance for the good of all.
Passionate about continuous professional development, Ughakpoteni earned three Master’s degrees from three universities in England in six years. These are: Master of Science in Business and Management Research from Henley Business School at University of Reading (2017); Master of Business Administration in Leadership and Sustainability from the University of Cumbria (2014) as well as Master of Arts in Leading Innovation and Change from York St John University (2013). He had earlier bagged the PR Academy, Maidstone House, Maidstone, United Kingdom Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) Diploma Public Relations in 2912.
Before his international laurels, he bagged a Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Management from the University of Calabar in 1991. That was more like a consolidation, as he started his higher education at the Auchi Polytechnic, where he graduated with a National Diploma, Business Administration in 1983.
Ughakpoteni began his working career in 1991 as a Management Assistant. Two years later, he veered into Journalism as a Researcher/Reporter at Nigeria’s THISDAY newspaper, where he worked on the Business, Energy and Politics desks in several newspapers and eventually became Associate Editor of Leadership newspaper.
While in journalism, he collaborated successfully with other journalists, as a member of the pioneer teams that established two thriving national newspapers in Nigeria: ThisDay and Leadership. This reinforced his strong need for achievement and ability to work efficiently with others in a team as well as equipped him with work attributes that are transferable to other settings.
Since joining the public service in 2004, he has risen from the position of Senior Manager to Director Media Relations at the Niger Delta Development Commission, an organisation set up by an Act of the Nigerian parliament to facilitate the sustainable development of the country’s Niger Delta region.
Ughakpoteni has over the years worked with his colleagues to refocus and strengthen the employee-oriented newsletter and the Oyster Magazine, the external stakeholder-oriented publication of the Niger Delta Development Commission as reliable media of communicating with the organisation’s diverse publics to elicit their understanding and support.
His roles in different capacities included contributing to broadening and deepening media coverage of the Niger Delta Development Commission by working in collaboration with colleagues within the organisation as well as with external print, electronic and new media practitioners to foster and improve public awareness of, and support for, the Commission’s development projects and programmes.
Ughakpoteni believes in applying his knowledge, skills, and abilities, working in concert with others, to conduct research and undertake activities that will position NDDC in the minds of government officials, opinion leaders, youths, private sector executives, statutory funding organisations and foreign aid agencies as an organisation that delivers projects and programmes which align with the Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs, to meet the needs of the people in a cost-effective, efficient, timely and transparent manner.
Right from his university days, Ughakpoteni has won several awards. These include: Utuks Group of Companies Prize for Best Graduating Student in the Department of Management Studies; United Bank for Africa Prize for the Best Graduating Student in Business Administration; Niger Delta Development Commission Best Senior Staff Award 2007 (Corporate Affairs Department), as well as the Dean’s List Student, York St John University at Robert Kennedy College, Zurich during Master of Arts, Leading Innovation and Change studies in 2013.
Ughakpoteni is the author of the book entitled: “Making the Niger Delta work: Strategy Execution Tips from the Niger Delta Regional Development Master Plan.” He also has several other publications in academic journals, including the one entitled: “Top Management and Leadership Antecedents of Corporate Sustainability Performance: A Scoping Review.”
He is happily married and is blessed with children.
It is to be seen the innovations he would want to initiate and the impact this may make in how the oil region is perceived. The problem has been that the communication policy and drive at the Commission hardly saw it as the duty of the NDDC to give the oil region its external image. They hardly knew that it was the best media brains at the Commission that ought to lead in image and reputation task of the Niger Delta by networking with all the information officers and public relations practitioners in the region to craft a image pathway for the region and encourage all practitioners to tow the line for collective outcome.