NDDC Board: IIG’S statement is wrong, vexatious, mischievious and provocative

Urhobo People Congress (UPC) has reacted to a statement by Mr. Gbubemi Awala and Mr. Alvin Yalaju writing on behalf of “Itsekiri Interest Group (IIG)”, describing the comments by these persons to be “wrong, inaccurate, misleading, vexatious and provocative.”

UPC, in a statement issued by its President, Otobrise Efetabore, and Secretary, Ufuoma Akpofure, stated that “we are aware of the provisions of the NDDC Act on the qualifications of persons for appointment into the Board, for which Chief Bernard Okumagba is fully qualified. Chief Okumagba hails paternally from Warri South Local Government Area of Delta State which is an Oil Producing area and maternally from Udu Local Government Area of Delta State which is also an Oil Producing Area. The attempt by the IIG to mislead the public on the issue of the lineage of Chief Bernard Okumagba is vexatious, mischievous and highly provocative.”

Urhobo People Congress (UPC) further noted that the NDDC Act in Part 1, Section 2(1) B “requires one to come from an Oil Producing Area” noting that “an area is a definite geographical space bound by its recognition in the constitution as administrative space. Thus, an area is a state, a local government area or a senatorial district. In the context of the NDDC act, an oil-producing area is coterminous with an oil-producing local government area. Both Warri South Local Government Area and Udu Local Government Area are Oil Producing Areas of Delta State.”

The Group recalls that President Muhammadu Buhari nominated Chief Bernard Okumagba as Managing Director of the NDDC in October 2019 after which he was screened by the various agencies of government and finally by the Nigerian Senate, which confirmed him on November 5, 2019.

According to Efetabore and Akpofure, Urhobo Nation is legitimate oil and gas producers in the Niger Delta and hosts some of the biggest oil and gas facilities in the Niger Delta such as the Otorogun Gas Plant in Chief Bernard Okumagba’s maternal homestead and thereby their lands and waters have been impacted by the operations of the oil and gas industry.

Furthermore, according to UPC, Udu kingdom where Chief Bernard Okumagba hails from maternally is a major Oil and Gas producing Local Government Area. “Udu is host to OMLs 34, 65 and the Otorogun Gas plant, the biggest Gas plant in the whole of West Africa. The Oil and Gas Facilities are managed by Nigeria Petroleum Development Company, NPDC. Udu has been contributing hugely to the economy of this country without much to show for it in terms of infrastructural amenities. Presently the construction of the 3rd phase of the Mega gas plant in Udu land is ongoing.”

As a grateful people, UPC noted that “when President Muhammadu Buhari eventually nominated our son Chief Bernard Okumagba as Managing Director of the NDDC in October 2019, we did thank President Buhari and the National Assembly members for the subsequent confirmation of the Board Members now awaiting swearing-in by President Buhari.”

The Group, therefore, cautioned that “we state here categorically that anyone from the Niger Delta region who goes against the generally accepted appointment of Chief Bernard Okumagba is an enemy of the Niger Delta region. We do not want a resurgence of ethnic hate and disharmony in the Niger Delta which the Itsekiri Interest Group (IIG) seems to be promoting by its inaccurate, misleading, vexatious and provocative statement.”

UPC extolled Chief Bernard Okumagba as someone “known to all across Delta State and the Niger Delta as a detribalised person, a committed and patriotic Niger Deltan. Nobody can point to him as an ethnic jingoist or a discriminator. By his education, training, pedigree and origin, Chief Bernard Okumagba is eminently qualified to lead the NDDC whether as Chairman or Managing Director.”

The Group, therefore, called on President Buhari to inaugurate the NDDC Board already screened and confirmed by the Nigerian Senate since November 2019.

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