MEET FRANK OSHANUGOR
By Frank Oshanugor
It is quite interesting to note that while some Nigerians particularly from the Oil producing states have hailed the recent appointment of Lauretta Onochie; a Presidential Social Media aide as the Chairman of the reconstituted Board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), there are also those warming up for ‘war’ over the appointment ostensibly because it is not given to their village person.
Watching the incumbent Delta State Finance Commissioner, Chief Fidelis Tilije commenting on Onochie’s appointment in response to a question on Arise Television interview, one is left to imagine the level of pettiness, the Commissioner and his likes have fallen to.
Agreed that Tilije had spoken for himself and certainly not for Governor Ifeanyi Okowa’s administration, it is demeaning and undiplomatic for him to have spoken the way he did. He has only shown how bitter he could be, by the simple fact that the people of Anioma area of Delta State (Delta North) happen to be in the same State with those of Delta Central (where he comes from) as if he has the right to decide who comes from where.
His argument that Onochie’s appointment by President Muhammadu Buhari lacks merit because she is from a non oil prospecting community in Delta North could best be described as puerile as the Commissioner has only tried to rubbish the concept of State as we know it for village in his understanding of the NDDC Act.
Good enough, a former House of Representatives member and Speaker emeritus of Delta State House of Assembly, Dr. Olise Imegwu has promptly faulted Titije’s posturing with explanation that Section 2(1a) of the NDDC Act states that the Chairman of the Board shall be from an oil mineral producing state. If the Act does not stipulate village, Tilije’s attempt to reduce “producing state” to community/village as a way of ostracising other parts of the state without oil field can as well be an exercise in redefining what constitutes a state in Nigeria’s constitutional context.
Already, some other agitators are in town seeking for a way on a zero sum game drive of scuttling the appointment if it does not come to their kinsman. The question is: how many Chairmen would NDDC have at a time? Some Ijaw, Itsekiri groups are already towing Tilije’s path by calling for a reversal of Onochie’s appointment not because she is not competent to hold the position but because she is not from their side of Delta State. Who has ever told these agitators that some people are more Deltan than others constitutionally speaking?
If Tilije and his likes are protesting against the appointment of Lauretta Onochie; an indigene of Delta State, as NDDC Chairman, why have they not taken their fight against Mele Kolo Kyari; a northerner who has been the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC)? Why has hell not fallen since? Is there oil well in Kyari’s village?
The truth is that President Buhari who currently has the constitutional prerogative to appoint whom he considers worthy of occupying such position in line with extant provisions of the NDDC Act, has taken his decision. The rest is now left for the Senate to do its job of clearance also in line with extant provisions which in any case were their own product.
The Senators would be doing the right thing if they could act without pandering to the whims of those who are likely to mislead them with jaundiced argument in the public space.