There was outrage on Wednesday over President Muhammadu Buhari’s appointment of his Special Adviser on Social Media, Lauretta Onochie, as the substantive Chairman of the Board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
While some Niger Delta stakeholders welcomed the appointment, others urged the Senate not to confirm her.
Senate President Ahmad Lawan read President Buhari’s letter containing a request for her confirmation at plenary.
The President also nominated others as members of the Board, including Chief Samuel Ibukun as Managing Director for a term of two years to complete the term of his predecessor, who hails from Bayelsa State.
The nominees are Onochie (Delta) as Chairman, Dr. Ibukun as Managing Director, Dimgba Erugba (Abia representative), Dr. Ene Willcox Wills (Akwa Ibom), former Edo State Deputy Governor Pius Odudu, Gbenga Edema (Ondo), Elder Dimaroe Daniya Bofa (Bayelsa representative), Orok Duke (Cross River) and Anthony Ekene (Imo).
Others are Onyekachi Dimkpa (Rivers), Alhaji Mohammed Kabiru Abubakar (Zonal Representative, Nasarawa), Prof Tallen Mamman (SAN) (Northeast Representative, Adamawa), Alhaji Sadiq Sami Sule (Kebbi State, Northwest Zonal Representative), Maj. Gen. Charles Ehigie Airhiavbere (Rtd) (Executive Director of Finance) and Charles Ogunmola (Executive Director Project, Southwest).
“I hereby present the underlisted 15 names of nominees as Chairman and members of the NDDC for confirmation by the Senate,” the President wrote.
Soon after the list was read, Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, noted that there was no Delta representative on the proposed board in accordance with the NDDC Act, which stipulates that each state of the NDDC must have a representative.
He urged the Executive to correct the anomaly, arguing that Onochie represents the entire Southsouth and not Delta in particular though from there.
Lawan promised that he would ensure that the Act was adhered to.
Senator George Sekibo (Rivers East), pointed out that the Senate had in 2019 screened and confirmed nominees for the NDDC board.
The apex Urhobo socio-cultural organisation, Urhobo Progressive Union (UPU), rejected Mrs Onochie’s appointment, describing it as “flawed and provocative”.
Its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Abel Oshevire, said her appointment was flawed because she does not hail from an oil-producing community.
According to him, Onochie is a stranger who cannot appreciate the pains of environmental degradation many persons in the creeks suffer.
He said: “Her appointment is wrong. She is not from an oil-producing community.