Saturday, May 18, 2024


Feelers reaching me show that the battle for the post of the Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, which eventually went to Nsima Ekere, was principally amongst four people- Barr Bassey Dan Abia, who was relieved of the seat for Mrs. Ibim Seminitari; Arc Esoetuk Etteh, former Executive Director, Projects at the commission; Barrister Asuquo Okpo and Engr Ita Awak.
My contacts in Dan-Abia’s camp said he has given up and moved up with his life.The same I gathered from Etteh’s camp. So also is Ita Awak who has mobilized support for Ekere.
But not Barrister Okpo. Responding to questions about his non-attendance at a G-22 meeting to show solidarity to Ekere on his appointment, after claiming there was no connectivity between his absence at the meeting and Ekere’s appointment, Okpo left no one in doubt about his stand on the issue. He said “injustice done to one is injustice done to all,” calling on people to join him to fight the perceived injustice.
Without saying much, he ended up confirming unconfirmed reports that he was the sponsor of all the petitions, protests and media attacks on the Ekere appointment. There are indications that at the moment, he has allegedly gone to court, through proxies, to secure an interim injunction to stop the senate from screening Ekere.
If these facts are true, I do not still understand why a gentleman lawyer like Okpo should not see the futility in fighting the case he is fighting. In law, judgements are given based on evidence presented at court. In the case of Ekere’s appointment, I do not see any evidence to connect the fight for justice and the appointment.
For one, the appointment is at the prerogative of the President. It is not an election matter. Even in an election matter, sometimes a leader’s prerogative holds sway. Atuekong Don Etiebet’s prerogative made way for Obong Victor Attah in 1999; Senator Godswill Akpabio’s prerogative made way for Mr. Udom Emmanuel in 3015. In all these, there was no consideration for zoning. The zoning formula that were used during the periods were only arranged to serve the prerogative of the mentioned leaders at the moment. Or, have questions been asked on why, even if the PDP in 1999, had zoned the Governorship to Uyo Senatorial District, an Etinan man was not chosen to complete the Late Obong Akpan Isemin’s term, or, why in 2015, an Onna (Eket federal constituency-which had produced Governors U. J. Esuene and Dr. Clement Isong) man was considered above someone from Ikot Abasi Federal Constituency and Oron Federal Constituency which had produced none.
The President’s prerogative made him appoint Senator Udo Udoma as a Minister representing Akwa Ibom State in the Federal Executive Council. It had nothing to do with whether he was from Ikot Abasi or not. If the President had no prerogative in the appointment, he would have bothered to check out the dictates of zoning on ground which would have seen it go to Oron nation. Even when there is no strict compliance to the prerogative from above, as in the cases of Senator Bukula Saraki and Speakers Yakubu Dogara, the prerogative of members of the assembly held sway. The members had their own personal prerogative and did not look to where Saraki or Dogara were from in making the choices. Or, do we think Senator Godswil Akpabio-who I supported to be Senator representing my people of Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District and still support till tomorrow-was the highest ranking of Senators from the South-South where the position of minority leader was zoned to by the Peoples’ Democratic Party?
Barrister Okpo should know that in the NDDC bye-laws, there is no list of local governments where the managing directorship should be rotated amongst. It is only states that the position is rotated to. There is no election at the state level for the office. It is still, finally, left to the President to appoint who he so wishes.
Oron people have a right to ask for any position but it is not by right. It is also not by might. It is by using all means available in lobby, contacts and connection to get whatever is available-before it is announced. Protesting after the announcement is like crying over spilt milk.
A high ranking Oron indigene-a friend of mine-called and spoke to me why Oron people should have been dashed the NDDC seat. He complained of injustice from the All Progressives Congress, APC, “after all they did for the party”. He said the only APC member in the state House of Assembly is from Oron nation. He said Oron nation was completely APC during the last election. Well, these are facts but do they have anything to do with NDDC? No| But I wonder why in the re-run, the only candidate from APC in Oron nation, gave up to the PDP candidate. I also wonder where the PDP got the votes to win that re-run if oron nation was totally APC
I believe it is providence that gave the position to Ekere and he should be allowed to stay for the short time he is to stay. He will need deep concentration, not distractions, to fully make maximum impact at the commission. Remember, he is not going to start afresh. He is completing Dan-Abia’s turn and about six months of that term has been with Rivers State. So, he needs our support more than this.
In the second republic, President Shehu Shagari approved a fourth refinery-after Port Harcourt, Kaduna and Warri-to be sited in Cross River State. Our leaders fought over the site being at Oron or Calabar. The Presidency, unable to separate the fight, took it to Rivers State. That was how River State ended up with two refineries. Long before then, in 1976, when states were to be created, a Qua Iboe state for the mainland part of old South Eastern state, was to be created. Oron leaders said their people preferred to remain with “Calabar”. Unable to persuade them that rivers were natural boundaries used to create states, the Ayo Irikefe panel dismissed their request for the stae to be created. Thank God it came eleven years after as Akwa Ibom State.
Just recently, when APC was being formed, Obong Ini Jackson, had pre-knowledge of the first South-South leadership consultation with Rotimi Amaechi, the south-south leader of the party. He was told to lead a team to Amaechi. He arranged the state party leadership and other stakeholders and went to Port Harcourt for the meeting. When he got up to speak on behalf of the team, they all shouted him down, claiming he was not in the APC. Amaechi asked him why that was so. He said he was an aggrieved PDP member just like him. Amaechi berated them for not wanting to open up the space for everyone to join the party and said, the way they were going, he was not sure he was going to leave the Vice Chairmanship of the party to them. The party eventually re-zoned the office to Cross River State. Hillard Ettah, who was also head hunted like Jackson to lead the Cross Rivers State delegation to the first consultation with Amaechi, become National Vice Chairman without any fight from ACN people in his state. Jackson who was even previously in the AD lost out to our perpetual in-fighting.
I tell these stories to remind us that the Nsukpak ebai nature of our being is not good for our progress. Someone should tell Barrister Okpo that even if Ekere is dropped, an Oron man may not be appointed in his stead. Has it also occurred to him that the President has the power to keep an acting managing director who is not from Oron or Akwa Ibom State for the remaining part of the tenure. Truth be told, Oron nation has great sons and daughters who could be President, Vice President, Senate President, Governors, Ministers, NDDC MD, NIMASA DG, NDLEA Commandant General, NESDREA CEO, NECO CEO, etc. But for now, an Ikot Abasi man, Nsima Ekere has been placed there,not because he is from Ikot Abasi, but because he is eminently qualified as the President’s choice for the position.
Some say the fear is that no Oron men will be empowered enough to seek the office of Governor in 2019. Who told you? In any case, has Nsima Ekere told anyone he is contesting the 2019 election? We should wait till then to play politics. In politics, Oron nation needs to work with others to achieve any aim. Standing alone has always failed them. They should work and wait. With time, something will surely come to them.
Again I say, it is Ekere’s turn today. It could be anyone else-including Barr. Okpo’s –turn tomorrow. For today, we must support Ekere. Tomorrow, we will support Okpo or any other person from the state who is given a national responsibility. These words I think should be enough for the wise and progressives amongst us.


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