THE apprehension in Akwa Ibom State over the position of the Managing Director of Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC has been put to rest following the appointment of an indigene of the state, Obong Nsima Ekere into the position, last week, by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Akwa Ibom people had felt unsettled after the sack of Barr Bassey Dan-Abia mid-way into his four year tenure on December 21, 2015 and the immediate appointment of Mrs. Ibim Semenitari from Rivers State as the acting MD of the commission.
Then, speculations in the state that there was a plot by the Federal Government to confirm Semenitari as the substantive MD even led to agitations and clamour by Akwa Ibom stakeholders that the President should appoint an indigene of the state into the office.
AKWA IBOM LAWYERS FIGHT
On April 22, four Akwa Ibom lawyers – Aniekan Akpan, Essien Obong, Akpadiaha Ebitu and Emmanuel Ukor, who are chairmen of Uyo, Ikot Ekpene, Eket and Oron branches of Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, respectively, dragged President Buhari, Senate President Bukola Saraki, House of Representatives Speaker Yakubu Dogara, the Attorney General of the Federal and Semenitari to a Federal High Court sitting in Uyo, over the matter.
Citing relevant sections of the NDDC Act, the Lawyers in the suit, FHC/UY/CS/27/16 sought an order of the court to declare that Akwa Ibom is the legitimate state statutorily entitled to produce an Acting or Substantive MD of NDDC to continue and complete the four years tenure allocated to the state by the rotation arrangement as enshrined in Section 3 and 12(1)(d) of the NDDC Act , and that Semenitari’s appointment was illegal.
They asked the court to ‘’compel the President to terminate Semenitari’s appointment and immediately appoint any Akwa Ibom indigene as the acting or alternatively, the MD of NDDC to continue and complete the four-year tenure allocated to the state.”
OUR FIGHT YIELDED RESULT – EBITU
Commenting on the appointment, one of the lawyers, Barr Akpadiaha Ebitu was quick to point out that their legal step played key role in rescuing the situation.
His words: ‘’I thank the Almighty God that justice has been done to Akwa Ibom State and that our wishes have come to pass. We are also happy whether anybody likes it or not that it is the direct result of the legal steps we took to rescue that ugly situation. And those two cases have become an academic exercise.”
AKW IBOM ELDERS, STAKEHOLDERS REJOICE
Other stakeholders and elders from the state were particularly happy that the appointment followed due process of appointing an indigene from oil producing area into the office as enshrined in the NDDC Act.
Apart the fact that Nsima Ekere hails from Ikot Abasi Local Council, an oil producing area in the state, many view his appointment into the office as well deserving.
While commending President Buhari for respecting the NDDC Act in re-constituting the NDDC board, political leader of Eket Senatorial district, Chief Nduese Essien (Atta of Ekid) commended the president over the choice of Nsima Ekere for the position.
He, however, said the president should not regard the appointment as a favour to the state since it is its statutory right to occupy the position this time.
His words: “I commend the President for re-constituting the board of the NDDC and giving the positions back to the states that statutorily had the right to the positions. I also commend him for appointing Nsima Ekere as the managing director because he is a good material for the office. But all the same, the President should not regard the appointment of Nsima as a favour to Akwa Ibom State. This is our statutory right. So, we from Akwa Ibom are looking forward to favours in terms of appointments into strategic positions at the national level.”
He congratulated Ekere on his appointment adding that he looks forward to him using the position for the further development of the Niger Delta region.
A youth leader in Ikot Abasi LGA, Mr. Ubong Essien, said the youths of his area could not hide their joy over Ekere’s appointment and described him as a trusted, experienced and community friendly son of the soil.
Ubong said though, Sir Udoma Udo Udoma, Minister for Budget is also their son that the people appear more excited over Nsima Ekere, a situation which he linked to his closeness to the grassroots.
“This time we believe Nsima will perform to expectation. Ikot Abasi people are proud of Nsima. In fact that night when the news of his appointment came, there was wild jubilation in the whole of Ikot Abasi town. I was thrilled because I cannot remember when I witnessed such in my area. What that means is that something good is happening to Ikot Abasi at last. The things that Nsima was able to do within the short time that he was a deputy governor gave us the strong belief that he will certainly make us and the entire Niger Delta region proud,” he added. (Culled from Vanguard)