A former Niger Delta militants group under the auspices of Niger Delta Development Front have thrown their weight behind the President’s Niger Delta Development Commission nomination.
The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (Ret’d.) recently forwarded to the Senate the names of 15 nominees to fill the board of the commission as chairperson, executive directors and others, including the name of Charles Ogunmola from Ondo State as Executive Director, Projects at the Niger Delta Development Commission.
In a statement signed by the ex-militants group National Coordinator, National Secretary and National Publicity Secretary, Comrade Ovie Bobarakuie, Chief Kingsley Ebiowou and Dr. Solomon Orighomisan respectively, they made their support known for the nominee.
SaharaReporters reported that some of the other nominees include: Lauretta Onochie as chairperson, Gbenga Edema to represent Ondo State, Pius Odubu to represent Edo State, Charles Airhiavbere (ED, Finance), among others.
However, certain lawmakers of the Ondo State House of Assembly, Robert Ajayi Boroffice (Ondo North), Pius Akinyelure (Ondo Central) and Nicholas Tofowomo (Ondo South), had last Thursday unanimously kicked against the nomination of Ogunmola, arguing that the nominee is from Owo in the northern senatorial district of the state as against the oil-producing Ilaje and Ese-Odo local council areas in the southern part of the state.
Reacting, NDDF gave the precedence of former NDDC Managing Directors, Nsima Ekere from Akwa Ibom State and Chief Onyema Ogochuckwu from Abia State, who were not from the Niger Delta region but we’re screened and confirmed by the Senate, and, thus, argued that the rejection of the nominee from Owo will create a bad precedent if such happens.
Mocking the Ondo state lawmakers, the group said the three lawmakers from Rivers State also rejected the nomination of former Governor, Rotimi Amaechi as Minister in 2015 but the senate still confirmed him and “heaven did not fall.”
They further argued that the NDDC board positions are not only meant to be occupied by indigenes of villages where there was crude oil, explaining that it was states of oil-producing regions that were boldly mentioned in the NDDC Act, not the local government areas or villages where crude oil is explored because such will cause ethnic disunity if allowed to happen.
The group, therefore, criticized the senator representing Ondo South Senatorial District, Nicholas Tofowomo, for threatening to mobilise what they tagged “faceless” Niger/Delta Militants to resume destruction of public properties and peace should Ogunmola be confirmed by the Senate, urging security agencies to hold the senator responsible should there be any breakdown of law and order in Ilaje/Ese Odo council areas of the state.
The statement read, “We at the Niger/Delta Development Front (NDDF), a group of over 400 ex-Niger/Delta Agitators from Delta, Bayelsa, Ondo, Rivers, Edo, Abia and Imo States respectively, are constrained to react to the ill-advised rejection of Mr Charles Ogunmola, President Muhammadu Buhari’s nominee for the position of Executive Director (Projects) on the board of NDDC by the three senators from Ondo State and leg-less threat by some faceless Politicians masquerading as ex-militants to disrupt the peace in the state should the senate confirm him.
“It’s pertinent to state that while we understand that the two PDP senators from Ondo Central and South merely played destructive oppositional politics by rejecting the nominee, the only APC senator, Ajayi Boroffice, did so out of petty ethnic jealousy. A question for him: would he have rejected him if Ogunmola had been from any of the communities in Akoko Land where he is their Asiwaju? Did Senator Borofice kick when Bunmi Tunji Ojo from Akoko was made the -Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on NDDC? Of course, the answer is an emphatic No. It is also worth mentioning that the two PDP Senators – Akinyelure (Ondo Central) and Tofowomo (Ondo South) lost their party re-election tickets because of abysmal performance in office and are now looking for anything to hang on just to be seen to be on the side of the people.
“While one may sympathise with the senators because their rejection is an exercise in futility as the Senate in its wisdom will neither disgrace the President who legitimately exercised the rights conferred on him by the NDDC Act to nominate Ogunmola nor piss on its own precedent which will be outlined later in the course of this public intervention, the threat to disrupt the relative peace in the region is non-existent as it is the handiwork of some faceless and rapacious politicians hiding under the guise of ex-militants to further their own parasitic agenda which has deprived the region of the needed development and growth over the years.
“We condemn without equivocation the statement credited to Senator Tofowomo that Ilaje and Ese Odo youths will resort to violence and militancy should the Senate confirm the nomination of Mr Ogunmola. We hereby put all security agencies in the state on alert in case of any eventuality in the aftermath that Ogunmola will be confirmed to please hold Tofowomo responsible for any breakdown of law and order in Ese-Odo and Ilaje LGAs of the state. Tofowomo is from Ile-Oluji, far from Ilaje and Ese-Odo.
“By the way, what developmental programmes and projects has Senator Tofowomo attracted to Ese-Odo and Ilaje LGAs since his election into the senate in 2019 that he is now crying more than the bereaved? Was he not rejected by his own party members when he sought for a return ticket? We at NDDF are only after the development of Ilaje, and not the jaundiced argument of where Ogunmola hails from in Ondo State. Five Ilaje indigenes had represented Ondo State at NDDC as Commissioners without anything tangible to show for their representation. We have it on good record that the contract for the reclamation of Ayetoro Ocean incursion has been awarded three times to some ex-commissioners from Ondo State in NDDC but today, Ayetoro has been submerged by the Atlantic Ocean. Why have these ex-militants not gone after these ex-commissioners to ensure that the reclamation project is completed to rescue the Ayetoro community from the biting pangs of the ocean incursion?
“Going down memory lane, the immediate past minister of transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, was rejected by the three senators from Rivers State during his screening and confirmation by the senate in 2015. Nevertheless, the leadership of the senate in its wisdom considered the rejection as bad politics taken too far and thus confirmed him for the position. It’s the same way we believe Mr Ogunmola’s nomination will be confirmed by the distinguished senate and the heavens will not fall.
“The same senate screened and confirmed H.E Nsima Ekere as the MD of the NDDC relying on the provisions of the Act that established the Commission. There is no oil in the village of Ekere in Akwa Ibom yet every stakeholder in the state rallied for him during his nomination, screening and confirmation by the Senate. Yes, Ogunmola, like H.E Ekere, does not have crude oil in his village in Ondo State but he is legally qualified to serve as an ED on the NDDC Board because Ondo State is one of the nine oil-producing states recognised by the Act. As stated by Senator Orji Uzor Kalu during the screening of Ogunmola at the senate, the same Senate once screened and confirmed Chief Ugochukwu Onyema from Abia State as the Managing Director of NDDC yet there is no oil in the local government that Chief Onyema comes from. By the way, is there crude oil in the Ilaje Mahin Kingdom of Mr. Gbenga Edema the nominee for the commissioner to represent Ondo State on the Board of NDDC? The answer is emphatic no.
“For the umpteenth time, we restate again that the choice of Ogunmola will not deny the oil-producing communities in the state the benefits accruable to them because he has a name to protect. By the way, there are indigenes of Ilaje LGA serving on the cocoa board in Ondo state yet no community in Ilaje or Ese-Odo has a cocoa plantation. It’s the same thing for precious minerals like limestone and bitumen which Ilaje does not have yet its sons and daughters serve on the boards controlling some of these minerals with no eyebrow from any of the communities producing them for the purpose of unity and stability in the state.
“It’s our belief that the distinguished senate will ignore the ignoble gang up against Ogunmola now and follow its own precedent in confirming his nomination just like it did in the case of H.E Ekere and Ogochukwu in the past to promote and deepen ethnic unity in Ondo State, on one hand, and the other hand, not to disgrace President Buhari by rejecting his nominee on the altar of a petty and ridiculous premise that is out of tune with the intention of the Act governing the commission. We urge the distinguished senate not to succumb to blackmail and empty threats from parasitic politicians masquerading as non-existing ex-militants in the state.”