A group, the Initiative for Leadership and Economic Watch in Nigeria has accused the Minister of State for Agriculture, Senator (Dr.) Heineken Lokpobiri and a former governor of Bayelsa State, Timipre Sylva of conniving to destabilize the Niger-Delta Development Commission, NDDC.
The group, in a statement claimed that the duo were working against President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration development agenda in the region.
They accused the politicians of sponsoring media content against the NDDC chairman, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba, and the MD Mr Nsima Ekere, in order to discredit their leadership.
According to the group, the minister and former governor were sponsoring such attacks in the media in order to “realise their ambition of dipping their hands into the commission’s treasury.”
The group said, “Disgruntled individuals and treasury looters are sponsoring smear campaign against the leadership of the Niger-Delta Development Commission, NDDC, to destabilise the region.
“We wish to alert the Niger- Delta people and the entire Nigerian public to an evil plot by enemies of the region working to rubbish the efforts of the Buhari government’s developmental agenda for the region.
“The devilish design consists of a vicious smear campaign against the chairman of the Niger-Delta Development Commission, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba, the MD Mr Nsima Ekere, in form of newspaper adverts/articles and sponsored television documentary dripping of lies and slander as well as intimidation and sponsored demonstrations.
“We are aware that some media organizations, mindful of the laughable and libelous contents, had responsibly rejected the said adverts/documentaries in spite of the huge money offered them in dollars.
“They believe that by sponsoring targeted attacks in the media to discredit the NDDC leadership and trigger chaos, they will realise their ambition of dipping their hands into the commission’s treasury.
In a statement signed by its Executive Director, Ambassador Agbonkpolor F. Splendour, the group further debunked reports that the present board of the NDDC got an elongation for its board members.
In the letter titled: “Re: Clarification on the tenure of the governing board of NDDC”, and sighted by journalists declared that the Ndoma- Egba headed board is not a continuation of the dissolved one headed by Bassey Henshaw.
The letter States : “Section 5(2) of the act refers to a situation where a vacancy occurs as a result of any of the provisions of section 5(1) of the act as opposed to when the entire board is dissolved . In this case, the previous board was dissolved and its tenure extinguished.
“Dissolution of the board cannot be categorised as a vacancy under the act. Dissolution signifies total extinguishment of the board, it simply ceases to exist and there cannot be any remainder of any term which a successor is expected to complete.
“There has to be a fresh composition of the board for a fresh term of four years. Therefore the letters of appointment stating that they were to complete the remainder of the tenure of the previous board is of no effect as the words in a letter cannot override the express provisions of an act.
“Furthermore, subject to the provisions of section 4 of the establishment act, a member of the board, other than an ex-officio member, shall hold office for a term of 4 years at the first instance and may be re-appointed for a further term of 4 years and no more.”
The group, therefore, advised the former governor and serving minister to work together with the NDDC to develop the region.