The good people of Akwa Ibom State in particular and Niger Delta in general, were still jubilating over the recent nomination of His Excellency Obong Nsima Ekere as the Managing Director of Niger Delta Development Commission by His Excellency President Muhammadu Buhari, when a certain faceless group, Niger Delta Volunteers (NDV) decided to embark on a wild-goose chase of demanding among other things, the withdrawal of Nsima Ekere’s nomination by the president. In a full page paid advertorial on The Nation of Wednesday, August 3, 2016 (page 30), the group demanded that the NDDC Board nominations should be withdrawn from the Senate and be replaced with technocrats of proven integrity who have no corrupt record. A part of the advert reads;
“The nominations of the Chairman and the Managing Director be withdrawn. These are individuals who could not perform in their previous elected/appointed offices and are eyeing 2019 gubernatorial positions in their states. The nomination of Obong Nsima Ekere, a self-centered person as Managing Director designate, is a glaring example of this misfit in this board nomination. In his various appointments, his performance was dismal. As an Executive Chairman of Akwa Ibom Investment and Industrial Promotion Council, he could not fulfill his loud promises to industrialize the State nor bring in the needed investors. As the Chairman of Ibom Power Company, he could not complete the project and left the office while staff were being owed over 4 months salaries. His achievements in other appointments amounted to nothing. As Deputy Governor, he neglected his people and refused to construct the road for his immediate community which was approved by the State Government. Sensing that he would be disgraced out of office, he hurriedly resigned as Deputy Governor to escape impeachment. His exit from government caused a great jubilation among his people. Ekere’s activities while serving Akwa Ibom State Government should be thoroughly investigate EFCC”.
Reading through the advert, one could easily notice that political jobbers are at work as all the claims made by the group are in complete contrast with the realities on ground. For instance, describing Obong Nsima Ekere as a “self-centered person” is malicious and mischief of the highest order. It is on record that since Nsima Ekere’s entry into active politics in December 1997, when he contested and won election into the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly during the Abacha Transition on the platform of the Grassroots’ Democratic Movement, GDM (he wasn’t however inaugurated before Abacha died in June 1998 and that transition was truncated), till date, he has been at the forefront of the struggle for the empowerment and development of the Niger Delta region and her people. He has been ardent and strong supporter of policies and programmes which have benefitted the people of the Niger Delta region. Worthy of note is the fact that Obong Nsima Ekere has been a key benefactor of the skills acquisition programmes of the Union of Niger Delta Youth Council, UNDYC, through which many youths of the region have been empowered and gainfully employed. For instance, within the last two years, more than 800 youths in Mkpat Enin, 344 youths in Abak and over 600 in Oron Federal Constituency were trained.
For avoidance of doubt, UNDYC is the appex youth organization in the Niger Delta region whose membership cuts across all the states of the Niger Delta region. Particularly, in the last two years under the current President, Barr. Godspower Nta, UNDYC has trained and empower youths in the region in an attempt to curb restiveness in the region. It can be recalled that shortly after assuming office, Barr Nta promised to seek partnership with coperate organizations, government agencies and public spirited individuals in order to implement his laudable plans, programmes and ideas for the Niger Delta youths. Speaking recently, Barr. Nta revealed that Obong Nsima Ekere has been a major supporter and sponsor of their programmes and activities. He revealed that Obong Nsima Ekere has touched the lives of many youths in the region even long after he left office as Deputy Governor. For the record, it was Nsima Ekere’s selfless support and contributions and that of other great sons and daughters of Akwa Ibom State like Dr Peterkings Ataha, that ensured the emergence and successful inauguration of an Akwa Ibom son, Barr. Godspower Nta as the President of UNDYC.
Meanwhile, to further discredit the outrageous claims in the publication, the nomination of Obong Nsima Ekere has been highly commended by various stakeholders in the Niger Delta region. Reacting to the appointment, the Akwa Ibom State Working Committee of the APC in a statement jointly signed by the leader of the party, Obong Umana Umana and the state chairman of the party, Dr. Amadu Attai, commended the president for the reconstitution of the board of the NDDC. “On behalf of the State Working Committee and the entire membership of the Akwa Ibom State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC), we want to commend President Muhammadu Buhari on the reconstitution of the Board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC). We are indeed delighted at the high quality of appointees to the new Board of the Commission and want to register our appreciation of the President’s careful and well-considered choices, which reflect deep concern for experience, competence and integrity. We are confident that the new Board under the able chairmanship of the highly experienced Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba will effectively steer the affairs of the Commission for the fulfillment of its mandate to the people of the Niger Delta,” the party stated.
Also, a former Minister of Petroleum, Atuekong Don Etiebet, who spoke in a telephone interview from the United States of America, said Buhari had by the NDDC appointment proved mischief makers wrong. “I received the news two days ago while on a trip in the USA with lots of excitement. I quickly sent my congratulations to His Excellency, Obong Nsima Ekere on his very well deserved appointment, which has gone to prove the political mischief makers wrong that Akwa Ibom was being neglected. I thank President Muhammadu Buhari most heartily for the appointment and pray Almighty God to give His Excellency, Nsima Ekere all the wisdom to make the difference at the NDDC required of him in this dispensation,” he said. On his part, the immediate past Senator representing Akwa Ibom North West, Senator Aloysius Etok described Ekere’s appointment as a perfect match for the institution and expressed gratitude to President Buhari for making it happen. “I congratulate His Excellency, Obong Nsima Ekere on this well-deserved appointment as the Managing Director of NDDC. He is a square peg in a square hole given his wealth of experience and knowledge of the Niger Delta Region.”
Also, the nomination of Mr. Nsima Ekere as the Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) by President Muhammadu Buhari has received the support of traditional rulers of the Ibibio, Annang, Oro and Ekid, the four major ethnic groups in Akwa Ibom State. The Ibibio predominate 14 of the 31 Local Government Areas (LGAs) of the state, followed by the Annang with eight, Oro with five and Ekid with two. In a goodwill message to President Buhari, Uyio Ikpaisong Ibibio, the supreme council of Ibibio traditional rulers, expressed “deepest appreciation” to the President for Mr. Ekere’s appointment which, according to it, will enable Akwa Ibom State to complete its tenure as the chief executive of the commission and the oil-producing Niger Delta states to witness massive environmental transformation and human capacity development. In a message signed by Uyio Ikpaisong and Paramount Ruler of Etinan LGA, Edidem Ime Dickson Umoette, the council urged Akwa Ibom people to continue to support President Buhari to enable him deliver the much-needed democracy dividends to Nigerians and prayed for the success of Mr. Ekere as he takes on his new task.
On its part, the Council of Oro Traditional Rulers (COTR) said they were expressing “our deep appreciation to President Muhammadu Buhari for the well-deserved appointment of Obong Nsima Udo Ekere as the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and Mr. Samuel George Frank as the Commissioner representing Akwa Ibom State in the NDDC Board.” In the message signed by the Chairman of the Council, Ovong Edet Isemin, and Offong Etim Oquong for Secretary, the Oro monarchs described Mr. Ekere as “an illustrious son of Akwa Ibom State with a track record of positive achievements and successes in all his previous endeavours.” The council further said Mr. Ekere exhibited a high sense of responsibility and friendly disposition as the Deputy Governor of Akwa Ibom State which brought him closer to the people and won him many admirers in many parts of the state. It expressed optimism that Mr. Ekere’s tenure as the NDDC MD will witness tremendous environmental development of the Niger Delta states.
Similarly, Afe Annang, the supreme socio-cultural organization of the Annang people, said Mr. Ekere’s appointment was “heart-warming and reassuring to all right-thinking Nigerians, coming as it does at a time when Nigeria needed people of proven ability and integrity in positions of authority in the county. In a congratulatory message to the new NDDC MD and signed by Itai Afe Annang IV, Okuku Pius Effiong, Eside III, who doubles as the Clan Head of Ikpe in Essien Udim LGA, the organization expressed the belief that with Mr. Ekere’s well-known pedigree and astuteness, he will discharge the functions of his new office effectively and satisfactorily. Afe Annang thanked President Buhari for “this careful choice and for giving due cognizance to the people of Akwa Ibom State, in particular, and the South-South Zone, in general,” and prayed God to continue to guide him in running the affairs of Nigeria.
It can be recalled that while Akwa Ibom people were agitating for appointment of an Akwa Ibom indigene as the MD of NDDC to replace the ousted Dan Abia, Obong Nsima Ekere was already tipped by various stakeholders for the appointment. Little wonder his nomination did not come as surprise, rather, was well received and endorsed. The massive endorsements and commendations following the nomination of Obong Nsima Ekere clearly show that Niger Delta Volunteers goofed in the publication. The jubilation across the Niger Delta region over the development is a testament that the people of the region were pleased with the performance of Nsima Ekere in his previous offices as against the false claims by NDV. Moreover, having successfully served as the Executive Chairman of Akwa Ibom Investment & Industrial Promotion council (AKIIPOC) and the Chairman, Ibom Power Company and later the Deputy Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Obong Nsima Ekere has left no right-thinking person in doubt over his managerial and administrative capacities. It is on this note that I call on the people of Akwa Ibom in particular and Niger Delta in general, to join hands with the new NDDC Board in the task of rebuilding and developing the Niger Delta region.