According to Clark, the NDDC's inclusion of Abia, Imo, and Ondo is a political anomaly.

According to Clark, the NDDC's inclusion of Abia, Imo, and Ondo is a political anomaly.
Edwin Clark, a politician, Ijaw leader, and nationalist from Delta State in Nigeria, has stated that the 2000 Niger Delta Development (NDDC) Act's inclusion of the States of Abia, Imo, and Ondo was an error that has to be fixed right now.

For this reason, he demanded that the NDDC Act 2000 be amended in order to completely remove the three non-Niger Delta states from the commission.

President Bola Tinubu was also encouraged by the former national commissioner to re-enact a new bill for the oil-producing states of Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers, Edo, and Akwa Ibom.

In a media appearance yesterday, Clark made a request to President Bola Ahmad Tinubu to modify the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) legislation, specifically to remove the oil-producing states of Abia, Imo, and Ondo that are not in the Niger Delta from the NDDC Act 2000.

His complaint was that the three minority oil-producing states are now pushing for equal infrastructure development and appointment distribution, to the point that the commission currently employs more personnel from the three non-Niger Delta states combined.

"I have taken it as my obligation to inform the Government and people of Nigeria about the true situation leading to the establishment of the NDDC; however, I regret to inform you that, as a member of our group, the South-South Peoples Conference (SSOPEC), I am the oldest stakeholder of the NDDC in the entire Niger Delta."

He read a passage from the statement of one of the organization's first meetings, SSOPEC, which took place on October 9, 1999, at the Petroleum Training Institute (PTI) in Effurun, Warri Delta State. Governors and other notable people were there.

The meeting was chaired by SSOPEC Chairman HRM Pere (Dr) H.J.R. Dappa-Biriye, with support from Chief E.K. Clark, the Deputy Chairman of SSOPEC, to hear the report of the 13-member SSOPEC Delegation to Abuja in August to meet with the then-President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, and members of the National Assembly concerning amendments to the presidential Bill on the establishment of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and to propose further amendments necessary to protect the interest of the Niger Delta people.

"His Excellency Obong Victor Attah, the Executive Governor of Akwa-Ibom State at the time, as well as government representatives from the South-South states, traditional rulers and chiefs, opinion leaders, women's groups, youth, and non-governmental organizations were also present at the meeting."

"We fully participated when President Obasanjo, the initiator of the Bill, invited us; HRM (Dr) H.J.R. Dappa-Biriye (OON,JP), my humble self and Sen. Fred Brume as leaders and we went with some other leaders of the South-South Peoples Conference for dinner at Aso Rock, on the 22nd of August, 2000. During that interaction with Mr. President, we went through the drafted Bill of NDDC which he said he will later submit to the Attorney General of the Federation for necessary action," he continued.

He said that former President Obasanjo had told them that the people in the North were against the creation of the NDDC and that they wanted the commissioning of the Shiroro Dam instead.

President Obasanjo recommended that in order to secure the additional votes of the South-East and South-West Legislators necessary for the Bill to pass, we should accept the three non-Niger Delta oil producing states of Abia, Imo, and Ondo State.

"I also inquired about Sokoto's oil content and whether it will be included in the Niger Delta. We then carried on.

"We met the Representatives of the three States at the National Assembly after that, and they were very happy," the statement continues. Together, we engaged in lobbying and talked about the plan of action that will help the NDDC Bill succeed.

The creation of the NDDC was perceived by certain ruthless and disloyal Nigerians as a denial or deprivation of the opportunity to benefit from the wealth that results from the Niger Delta's oil resources.

"Notably, at the 2014 National Conference, we proposed the creation of the North East Development Commission to reconstruct the war-torn regions of the Northeast, following the model of the Marshall Plan, which was implemented in Germany and the rest of Europe following the Second World War (1939–1945).

"When President Obasanjo refused to sign his own executive bill, which he presented to the National Assembly, the joint committee went around lobbying National Assembly members, including the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the President of the Senate, and the Chairman of the Appropriations Committee, following the agreement with the members of the National Assembly from the three Southern States.

"After using its constitutional authority, the National Assembly signed the Bill into law thirty (30) days later."

He said that the Nine States' tasks and the identity of the Executive Management were specified in the NDDC Establishment Act 2000, which was signed by Senate President Chuba Okadigbo at the time.

Remember that the inclusion of Abia, Imo, and Ondo was a political aberration. Cross Rivers State was covered by the NDDC Act, albeit, after Bakassi was relocated to Cameroon and wells in the High Seas were eliminated by the Littoral Oil Dispensation.

The last blow was when the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Akwa-Ibom State, claiming ownership of the oil wells on the property. As a result, Cross Rivers does not make any contributions to the NDDC. Part I, Section 4 of the NDDC Act states, "The office of the Chairman shall rotate among the member states of the Commission in the following alphabetical order: Abia State, Akwa-Ibom State, Bayelsa State, Cross-River State, Delta State, Edo State, Imo State, Ondo State, and Rivers State." I will like to refer to these sections of the Act in my write-up.

Part II, Section 7, Sub-Section 2 adds: "The Commission shall consider the unique and diverse contributions made by each member state of the commission in the exercise of its tasks and powers under this section.

"The Executive Directors, a Managing Director, and the Commission shall be natives of oil-producing regions. The Executive Directors shall be appointed by the Commission to the Member States with the highest oil production quantities, and they shall serve in that order of production," according to Part IV, Section 12, Sub-Section 1.

"It is true that the law stipulated that the Executive positions would rotate among the states according to the volume of production, but it made no mention of the order in which the rotations would occur."However, based on equity, fair play, and justice, the federal government decided that these Executive positions would only rotate among the four majorities of oil producing states, namely Delta, Akwa-Ibom, Bayelsa, and Rivers States. It was determined that expanding it to the minority oil producing states, such as Abia, Cross-River, Edo, Imo, and Ondo, would be unreasonable and chaotic.

"For example, Imo accounts for 1.02% of the total oil production among the nine states."

In his further explanation, he stated that the Act's Chairmanship began with Abia State under the rotation, with Chief Onyema Ogochukwu serving as the first chairman.

Following that, Amb. Sam Edem, a delegate from Akwa-Ibom State, took his position. Following the appointment of Air Commodore Larry Koiyan, Bayelsa State replaced Akwa-Ibom State.Following Bayelsa State's appointment of Sen. Bassey Ewa Henshaw, who was later ousted by the incoming federal government and replaced by Sen. Victor Ndoma-Egba, Cross-River took over. He did not serve out his entire tenure.

"Delta state will now take the lead after Cross River state, but what happened? When it was not yet Edo state's turn to produce the Commission's Chairman against the law established the Commission, Adams Oshiomhole proposed Pius Odubu, his former Deputy Governor.

He said, "There were accusations and counter-accusations between the National Assembly and the Interim Management Committee later on, and some of them were savagely insulted that we, the leaders of the Niger Delta, looted the NDDC treasury by awarding contracts that were paid for but never completed.

"At the time, we, the NDDC leaders and stakeholders, promised that we would no longer put up with the corruption and chaos that defined the Commission.

"Under my direction, the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) established a committee to quietly and covertly look into the events in the NDDC.

"It should be noted that the NDDC is currently reporting to the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs rather than the Presidency through the Secretary to the Government of the Federation; however, the NDDC's transfer to the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs is not yet official."

Additionally, Clark charged that members of the Niger Delta political establishment, such as Senators Adams Oshiomhole and Ovie Omo-Agege, the Honorable Rotimi Amaechi, and Chief Timipre Sylva, had pilfered board seats amongst themselves.

But, he added, later Niger Delta Affairs Minister and current Senate President, Sen. Godswill Akpabio, intervened and established an interim committee as well as another group of unregistered sole administrators. These individuals held that position by themselves and managed the Commission's billion-naira budget on their own for roughly two years.

The same politicians once again nominated a new board, selecting Charles Ogunmola as the Executive Director for Project from Owo in Ondo State, Maj. Gen. Charles Arhiavbere as the Executive Director for Finance from Edo State, and Mrs. Lauretta Onochie as the Managing Director from Bayelsa State. Additionally, an Executive Director for Cooperate Services position was created, even though it was not specified in the NDDC Act, and Ifedayo Adegunde was appointed from Ondo State.

"The administration of President Tinubu ultimately made the decision to rectify the situation, and a new Board has been established in compliance with the NDDC Act.

"I reiterate that the management post has been conveniently limited by convention and agreement to the four largest oil producing states: Delta State, Akwa-Ibom State, Bayelsa State, and Rivers State.

"The three non-Niger Delta states of Abia, Imo, and Ondo are demanding to hold the positions of Managing Director and the two Executive Directors for Finance and Executive Director for Project," which is why the problem has not abated.

His ire stemmed from the Imo State oil-producing community's request to the court to halt the induction of Board members in an article published in a national daily.

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