NDDC’s Board Hangover – Dissecting The Issues, Complaints And Arguments



President Muhammadu Buhari took over the reins of the NDDC in 2015 when Barr. Dan Abia (Akwa Ibom) was half way in office as Managing Director/CEO of the Commission, and Bassey Ewa Henshaw (Cross River) was the Chairman. Having been appointed on 16th December, 2013 and going by Section 3 (1) of the NDDC Act, had Abia run a full course, his tenure was expected or would have terminated on December 15, 2017. But he spent two years and five days (with approximately six months in the administration of President Buhari).


However, from the 20th of December, 2015 when Dan Abia was sacked, a period of a little above four years now, President Buhari has had the Commission run by five different acting or interim committees and one substantive managing director in the out-gone Mr. Nsima Ekere. The proxies include Mrs. Ibim Semenetari; Prof. Nelson Brambaifa; Dr. Akwagaga Enyia; Dr. Joi Nunieh, and the incumbent, Prof Kemebradikumo Pondei. The transmissible pattern of interims all began with the debatable abrogation of the tenure of Dan Abia.


Expectedly, the mid-term mortality of Abia was greeted with vociferous complaints and litigations. A quartet of lawyers comprising Aniekan Akpan, Essien Obong, Akpadiaha Ebitu and Emmanuel Ukor as well as chairmen of Uyo, Ikot Ekpene, Eket and Oron branches of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) had put on their gowns to the court for litigal prayers. They anchored their consolation in the request that the next Managing Director come from Akwa Ibom in complementary and commiserating compensation to the palace abortion. That threat ended in a culdesac. Pretentiously forgotten and forgone was the fact that Chief Ewa Henshaw as Chairman of the same board was earlier sacked on July 16, 2015.



The NDDC was established on June 5, 2000 in the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo. Part 1 (2) of the NDDC Establishment Act and the Governing Board states: (1) There is hereby established for the Commission a Governing Board (in this Act referred to as The Board), which shall consist of (a) Chairman (b) one person who shall be an indigene of an oil producing area to represent each of the following member States, that is Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Imo, Ondo, and Rivers.


Section (c) of the law states: Three persons to represent non-oil mineral producing States provided that such membership should be drawn from the remaining geo-political zones which are not represented in the Constitution. (d) One representative of Oil Producing companies in the Niger Delta nominated by the oil producing companies (e). One person to represent the Federal Ministry of Finance. (f) One person to represent Federal Ministry of Environment. (g) The Managing Director of the Commission. (h) Two Executive Directors
(2) The Chairman and other members of the Board shall be appointed by the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, subject to the conformation of the Senate, in consultation with the House of Representatives. The 4th Schedule of the Establishment Act states: The Office of the Chairman shall rotate amongst the member States of the Commission in the following ALPHABETICAL order – (a) Abia (b) Akwa Ibom State (c) Bayelsa State (d) Cross River State (e) Delta State (f) Edo State (g) Imo State (h) Ondo State (i) Rivers State.

Unlike the provisions for chairman, Section 12 makes the office of the managing director and two executive directors rotational. In other words, it requires that “there shall be for the commission, a Managing Director and Two Executive Directors who shall be indigenes of oil producing areas, starting with the member-States of the commission with the highest production quantum oil and shall rotate among member states in the order of production” (that is, from the highest to the lowest contributor). By January 2020, oil production quota for each member-state of the NDDC indicated as follows: Akwa Ibom (31.4%); Delta (21.7%); Rivers (21.4); Bayelsa (18.1%); Ondo (3.7%); Cross River (2.6%); Edo (2.1%); Imo (1.1%); and Abia (0.7%).



PAST PRESIDENTS AND HISTORY OF NDDC LEADERSHIP: On the aforementioned principles, the Chairman and MD positions have been occupied in the following order: (1) Onyema Okechukwu (Chairman 2001-2005), Abia State; working with Godwin Omene (MD/CEO 2001 – 2003), Delta State; Timi Alaibe (EDFA – Executive Director Finance and Administration 2001-2005), Bayelsa State; Engr. Udo Mboso (EDP –Executive Director Projects 2001-2002), Akwa Ibom; Emmanuel Aquariavwode MD/CEO 2003-2005), Delta; Ukot Ukot (EDP 2002-2005), Akwa Ibom. At this incipient stage, it is said to have been agreed by consensus that since the NDDC was headquartered in Port Harcourt, Rivers State should be excused from the first round of sharing of executive directors.


Sam Edem (Chairman 2005 -2007), Akwa Ibom; Emmanuel Aquariavwode (MD/CEO 2005 -2006), Delta State; Timi Alaible (EDFA 2005 -2006; Acting MD/CEO 2006-2006), Bayelsa State; PZ Aginighan (Acting EDFA 2006-2006), Delta State; Benial Ojum (EDP 006 -2006), Rivers State. After Sam Edem, the batton fell on another Akwa Ibom person. Dan-Abia (Acting Chairman 2007 -2009); Timi Alaibe (Substantive MD/CEO 2006-2009), Bayelsa State; P. Z Aginighan (Acting EDFA 2007-2009; Transition acting MD/CEO2009-2009), Delta State.
When Larry Koinyan from Bayelsa State served as Chairman of the NDDC (2009-2011), he worked with Chibuzor Uguoha (Substantive MD/CEO 2009-2011), Rivers State; P. Z Aginighan (EDFA 2009-2011), Delta State; Ikpong Etteh (EDP 2009-2011), Akwa Ibom; Osato Arenyeka-Iyasere (Transition acting MD/CEO 2011-2011), Edo State. Then there was Tarifa Tebepah as Chairman from 2011-2013, from Bayelsa State. Working with him were Christian Oboh (Substantive MD/CEO 2011-2013), Rivers State; L.E.J Komboye (EDFA 2011-2013), Delta; E. Eshiet (EDP 2011-2013), Akwa Ibom; Christy Atako (Transition acting MD/CEO 2013-2013), Cross River State.


The tenure of Bassey Henshaw, a Cross Riverian, as Chairman of the NDDC 2013-2015 had Dan-Abia (Substantive MD/CEO 2013-2015), Akwa Ibom; Itonaren Ogiri (EDFA 2013-2015), Rivers State; Omasuli Tuoyo (EDP 2013-2015), Delta State. The sack of Dan-Abia brought in Ibim Semenetari (Transition acting MD/CEO 2015-2016), Rivers State. Victor Ndoma-Egba of Cross River State succeeded Bassey Henshaw as Chairman (2016-2019). It was during that time that Nsima Ekere served as MD/CEO; Mene Derek (EDFA 2016-2019), Rivers State; Adjogbe Samuel (EDP 2016-2019), Delta State.
The Ndoma-Egba Board consisted of Nsima Ekere (2016 -2020); Mene Derek (Executive Director, Finance and Administration); Adjogbe Samuel (Executive Director Projects); Frank George (Akwa Ibom reps); Prof. Brambaifa Nelson (Bayelsa); Sylvester Nsa (Cross River); Ogaga Ofowodo (Delta); Uwuilekhue Saturday (Edo); Harry Dabibi (Rivers); and Bernard Banfa (North Central). Others were Mohammed Yahaya (North East); Mustapha Dankadi (North West); Abdul Kazeem Bayero (Ministry of Environment); and Dr. Mahmoud Isa-Dutse (Federal Ministry of Finance).



PRESIDENT BUHARI’S ADOPTIVE PATTERN: With the removal (resignation) of Nsima Ekere, Friday, January 25, 2019, Prof. Nelson Brambaifa of Bayelsa was appointed as transition Acting MD/CEO on that same day. With him were Chris Amadi (Transition Acting EDFA 2019-2019), Rivers State; and Adjogbe Samuel (Transition Acting EDP 2019-2019), Bayelsa. But that management team lasted for only seven months and was dissolved on Tuesday, August 27, 2019.
The order from the Presidency that knocked out Nelson Brambaifa said he should hand over to the most senior staff on the Management ladder. On Tuesday, August 27, 2019, the lot fell on Mrs. Akwagaga Enyia as the third female Interim Managing Director of NDDC.


There were hopes that she will be the one to hand over to a substantive board of the Commission or, as some wished, assume the substantive position. But it never happened.


By this time, President Buhari must have been working and plotting on setting up a statutory board for the NDDC. Finally, in a letter dated 18th October, 2019, the President forwarded a list of 16 nominees for the NDDC Board to the National Assembly. The original list for the NDDC Board consisted of the former deputy governor to former governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomole, Dr. Pius Odubu as Chairman; Bernard Okumagba (Delta State), Managing Director; and Otobong Ndem (Akwa Ibom State), Executive Director Projects; and Maxwell Okoh (Bayelsa), Finance and administration.

Christy Atako, 1st Ag. MD

Others on the list are Jones Erue (Delta); Victor Ekhatar (Edo); and Joy Nunieh (Rivers State); Nwogu Nwogu (Abia); Theodore Allison (Bayelsa); Victor Antai (Akwa Ibom); and Maurice Effiwatt (Cross River). Included also are Olugbenga Edema (Ondo); Uchegbu Kirian (Imo); Aisha Murtala Muhammed (Kano), representing the North-West area; Ardo Zubairo (Adamawa), representing North-East zone; and Ambassador Abdullahi Bage (Nasarawa), for North-Central geo-political zone.

Ibim Semenitari, 2nd Ag. MD

On Tuesday, October 29, 2019, the Senate met at plenary to consider the list. However, on that same day, the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Sen. Godswill Akpabio, also inaugurated a 3-man Interim Management Committee (IMC) comprising Acting Managing Director, Dr, Joi Nunieh (Rivers), Acting Executive Director, Projects, Dr Cairo Ojougbor (Delta); and Acting Executive Director, Finance/ Administration, Chief Ibanga Bassey Etang. Consequently, then Acting Managing Director, Dr. Akwagaga Enyia, on October 30, 2019, handed over to Dr. Nunieh.

Akwagaga Enyia, 3rd Ag. MD

Senate and the House of Representatives were quick to describe the IMC as an illegality and misnomer, hence they refused to have any official dealings with the IMC. This even affected the 2019/2020 budget of the Commission because the National Assembly insisted that the President must not only recognise the duly screened and confirmed NDDC board of 5th November, 2019, but inaugurated it in the spirit of the law.

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For a spell of months, silence, intrigues and suspicion reigned. Finally, in a letter dated December 23, 2019 to the Senate, which was read on January 28, 2020, the President pronounced that everything about the new NDDC Board had to be put on hold until a new board was recomposed. The letter said this was necessary for the audit of the NDDC to be completed. Not a few however believed that the interregnum was also to help the President finetune possible discrepancies on the first NDDC list.


On Monday February 11, 2019, the Senate, having resolved to be on the same page with the President, capitulated and accepted the IMC. This sheathing of the sword was practically demonstrated when the National Assembly welcomed the once ostracised Dr. Nuneih into the Chambers and considered the 2019/2020 NDDC Budget of N346, 388, 921, 000.


But surprisingly, Dr. Joi Nunieh was sacked on Wednesday, February 19, 2020. She was on that day replaced with another Rivers State indigene, Prof. Kemebradikumo Pondei as acting Managing Director, and as well expanded the transition committee to five – Dr. Cairo Ojougboh (Delta), Ag. EDP; Mr. Ibanga Etang (Akwa Ibom), Ag. EDFA; Mrs. Caroline Nagbo, Member (Rivers); and Cecilia Akintomide, Member (Ondo). So as it stands at the moment, the NDDC has no substantive board.





With the subsisting situation, many questions arisen. How long more might it take the President to constitute a board for the NDDC? Who or from which state will the chairmanship and managing director positions come from? If we go by the extant template of appointments into these two offices, it means that the next chairman should be certain to come from Delta as the fourth state on line, since Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa and Cross River had already taken their turns twice by the alphabetical order. Delta can as well fight for the MD’s position that has been dominated by Rivers State. These are exactly the package they are challenging President Buhari with.
Previous Presidents believed so much in the entrenched template of appointment even at the Managing Directors level, such that in 2003 when Engr. Godwin Omene (Delta) was booted out prematurely, a quick replacement was found in another Deltan, Mr. Emmanuel Agwariavwode. That also applied in 2009 when Mr. Chibuzor Ugwoha (Rivers) was axed midway, and Mr. Christian Oboh (Rivers) succeeded him without a fuse.
If we go by the principle of alphabetical order in appointing a chairman and MD after Cross River was the last to take a slot, it simply means that the next state on line is or should be Delta State that never produced a chairman, although it twice had Managing Directors in Godwin Omene as a pioneer (2001 – 2003); Emmanuel Aquariavwode (2003-2005); the closest or next in line shall be Edo State.


Interestingly, these two states are not pretending over the perceived abnormalities that are lingering in the way the Presidency has been handling issues of appointment in the NDDC. When the list of nominees was forwarded to the Senate, the arguments from Delta State were twofold –internal and external. The internal was the sidelining of bona fide local governments under the Delta State Oil Producing Area Development Commission (DESOPADEC) in the appointments. The second, the external, was that Ojougboh should not only be appointed a substantive MD but the chairmanship position should also come to Delta State.


Elders, youths, women, and activists across Delta are agitating against cheat that might be repeated in the appointment of chairman and managing director for the NDDC. The simple thread of message is that it is their turn. More than twice, Eric Omare of Ijaw Youth Council; Ovie Umuakpo of Isoko National Youth Assembly; Urhobo Youth Union’s Presdient, Fetsus Otesiri and National President of Itsekiri National Youth Council, Godwin Okotie, with elders have led their battalion on protesters to towns and creeks of the State and beyond.
It’s been a cocktail of agitations and demonstrations that come with interesting solidarities. Imagine that even Bayelsa State is saying it is Delta State’s turn to produce the chairman of the Board. Bayeslsa youths under the aegis of Ijaw Monitoring Group (IMG) and Niger Delta Peace Advocacy Group (NDPAG), speaking through their leaders following a meeting in Yenagoa, Birinmeigha Dennis and Bekesuo Adigo of NDPAG, warned that it is Delta or no other.

What now remains to be seen or heard is if and how President Buhari and other critical stakeholders will listen or handle the situation. Although there are sacrosanct basic guidelines to always follow for appointment of qualified persons into its management board and leadership transition procedures, it can be argued that the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has not enjoyed a single seamless or quick change of baton since 2015. There have always been issues, complaints, arguments and bureaucratic redtapism before, during and after, which, as some commentators have observed, would have been better managed or completely averted if entrenched operational norms that guide such matters were strictly adhered to.


No woman has ever served in the substantive position of either chairman or managing/CEO of the NDDC nor had any served beyond two years in their make-shift positions since it was formed. This condonable chauvinism appears to have devalued the principle of 35 per cent Affirmative Action.





1. Only 4 states in the NDDC has occupied the office of the Chairman of the Commission, namely Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa and Cross River. Cross River has produced two chairmen and Akwa Ibom two, although one was acting?


2. The law says appointment of chairmen must follow alphabetical order of oil producing states and that managing directors are to be appointed on the principle of the state with the highest quantum of oil to the least?


3. Either in substantive or acting capacity, the Commission has since inception in 2000 produced 7 chairmen and 13 managing directors (8 substantive, 5 acting); with only Onyema Okechukwu and Nsima Ekere having stayed up to 4 years?


4. Delta, Edo, Imo, Ondo and Rivers State never had a shot at the chairmanship?
5. Imo and Ondo may never for once have produced any MD?


6. The first woman-MD of the NDDC was Dr. Christiana Atako of Cross River State, whom three other women would subsequently follow, although none has served as a substantive MD?


7. Only Mrs. Semenetari and Obong Nsima Ekere were sourced from outside the ranks of the NDDC as MDs?
8. Whether in substantive or acting capacity, Rivers State has produced more MDs than any other state?


9. President Buhari has produced two of the substantive chairmen and 6 acting managing directors and greater number of women in leadership position of the NDDC in the last five years?

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