The controversy surrounding the non appointment of a commissioner into the board of the Niger Delta Development (NDDC) in Edo State by President Jonathan has sparked off accusations between the two leading political parties (PDP and APC) and the ensuing controversy has been ascribed to power play by the Presidency and political gladiators in the state.
It was gathered that the Presidency is holding on the appointment for electoral reason, while some believed it was as a result of the political rivalry in the state. The state governor Adams Oshiomhole had sent in the name of the immediate past Edo NDDC Commissioner Henry Okhuarobo for reappointment in line with the agency’s appointment organogram and the rule of law mantra of late President Musa Yar’adua that nominees for NDDC Commissioner should be from the state governor.
But the Edo State governor, Adams Oshiomhole will have to contend with the crisis in his party, the PDP and the Chairman PDP board of trustee and national leader Chief Tony Anenih who according to sources has severally been ridiculed publicly by governor Oshiomhole.
Chief Anenih is believed to have informed the Presidency the role played by the former NDDC Commissioner Henry Okhuarobo bank rolling the second term bid of Oshiomhole with funds from the federal board to the detriment of the PDP. The Uromi born political tactician who is said to wield much influence in the Presidency according to a PDP chieftain who spoke on condition of anonymity explained that Anenih will do everything possible to ensure that Oshiomhole’s nominee is not appointed adding that the Edo state governor should take a cue from the appointment of Rivers state representatives on the NDDC board which was carried out without consultations with Governor Amaechi “the governor was not consulted before the appointment of the two commissioners from the state, so I think Oshiomhole must be leaving in the past if he ever feels his nominee will scale through this time”.
The defection of Senator Ehigie Uzamere to the PDP is another stumbling block for Oshiomole’s nominee, it is on record that Senator Uzamere and Senator Domingo Obendel both representing Edo South and Edo North respectively in the National Assembly played prominent role in the appointment of Okhuarobo in his first stint as NDDC Commissioner. While it will be a herculean task for Oshiomhole to get his man through as a result of the defection of Senator Uzamere to the PDP, the loyalty of Senator Obendel to his party is already in doubt because of the present political crisis in the state APC even when groups are clamouring for the re-appointment of the immediate past commissioner.
Governor Oshiomhole’s nominee according to a chieftain of APC, chief Nosakhare Imalele would have long been cleared by the Senate and re-appointed by President Jonathan but for the numerous problems created by the governor, “he has made more enemies than friends because of his approach to governance and his attitude in adhering to party principle, he feels he alone knows everything, he takes unilateral decisions without consulting anyone. He has no friend and above all, he has as a result of his outburst fallen out with the presidency, although we hear he is trying his best to placate the presidency but how far that will go remains to be seen”. Imalele while describing the governor’s nominee as a man of impeccable character who deserve a second term irrespective of party affiliation noted that the impact of Okhuarobo in terms of project execution and distribution endeared him to most people in the state, “Okhuarobo is a man who does not only believe in fair and equitable distribution of developmental projects, he in somebody who combines human and infrastructural empowerment as the totality of development”.
There are indications that Senator Uzamere has intensified his lobby for the appointment of his personal assistance Mr. Peter Enogieru as the state NDDC Commissioner even though there are other PDP nominees which includes Mr. Thompson Osagie a former Secretary to Orhionmwon Local Government Council, Chris Enekhikhare personal assistance to Dan Osi Orbih Edo state PDP Chairman, Osahon Ahumwan an aide to Senator Ugbesia.
Although it has been alleged that three amongst the list of the nominees have since been dropped except Senator Uzamere’s nominee owing to political and strategic reason according to a PDP source, a fresh list of nominee is been considered for transmission to the presidency for consideration.
The PDP source explained that the decision to drop the names earlier endorsed by the various interest group within the party was as a result of the sponsors of the nominees’ desperation for the position and the fact that the nominees are regarded as greenhorns without the required experience for the job. It explained that there are more and better credible party members whose loyalty to the party is not questionable and have sacrifice a lot for the party. “The decision to drop the former list of the PDP was a welcome development, the party can boast of credible, dedicated and experienced party members in the three oil producing local government in the state who can outwit governor Oshiomhole’s nominee in terms of work experience or otherwise. It would have been suicidal to have abandoned experience, dedication and party loyalty to mediocrity in the nomination and subsequent appointment of the state NDDC Commissioner”.
Another reliable source from the Presidency hinted that President Jonathan is willing to concede the Edo NDDC Commissioner to Governor Oshiomhole but on the premise that he ensures the victory of the President in the 2015 Presidential election. The President they said is not too comfortable with the leadership of the state PDP so he is said to be playing the waiting game until after the presidential election. “President Jonathan still believes in Oshiomhole in spite of the massive decamping of some former chieftain of the state APC to PDP, the acclaim agitations by the leadership of the state PDP that Oshiomhole’s nominee will not be appointed are all ruse. Oshiomhole till date is still a trusted ally of President Jonathan and I can authoritatively say with all sense of honesty that the Edo State NDDC appointment will not be made till after the 2015 election and in any case Oshiomhole will get his way the moment he fulfil his part of the bargain by ensuring the electoral victory of Mr. President in Edo State”.
However the inability of the Presidency to appoint Edo State representative on the board of the NDDC has since sparked off series of protest some alleged to have been sponsored by interested party to the extent that the state house of Assembly recently passed a resolution appealing to President Jonathan to as a matter of urgency appoint the Governor’s nominee.
They averred that the state is already lagging behind in terms of projects and that most of the projects embarked upon by the agency has been abandoned due to the inability of the contracting firms to get fund from the body. Hon Elizabeth Ativie who raised the motion pleading with the Federal government to speed up the process of the appointment since every other representing states of the commission already had their commissioners appointed adding that it will be a disservice to the state if the appointment is delayed much longer.
Reacting to the inability of the Presidency to appointing a substantive representative into the NDDC board from the state, Barrister Okhuarobo maintained that the appointment will definitely be made adding that he has done much in terms of project execution to deserve a reappointment if service is one of the criteria’s some of the projects which he said he embarked on while in office includes the provision and installation of transformers for various communities in the state, provision of solar street light in University of Benin, provision and rehabilitation of solar powered borehole in a Aduwawa and Gelegele respectively, the Ekemwan electricity project, and the electrification of Okogbo community and Egboko-Owe. Other projects embarked on according to the former Edo NDDC Commissioner are the reconstruction of the Arbico, obozobge-Abudu, egboko-owe, eso-oheze-evbueghae, S and T, Amadasun, obadiaru, Iguodala, Udo-ofunama, uwa street, ugbor-ogunmwenyi, country home motel, evbuomwan street and Iguosa housing estate roads amongst several others including bridges.
The former NDDC Commissioner stated further that he did not limit his scope on construction/ reconstructing of roads and electrification projects, he as well embarked on construction of school buildings, hostels and recreation centres.
By Rafiu Amule