Home News Give oil producing areas Minister for Niger Delta Affairs, stakeholders urge Tinubu

Give oil producing areas Minister for Niger Delta Affairs, stakeholders urge Tinubu


By Samuel Ese, Yenagoa

Some stakeholders from the Niger Delta region have urged President Bola Tinubu to appoint somebody from to appoint the Minister for Niger Delta Affairs from any of the oil producing states in the region.

The call by the stakeholders who believe that such a minister would help to address the plight of the region is coming against the background of alleged moves by some powerful persons around the presidency to persuade Tinubu to consider someone from a non-oil producing area for the position.

An advocacy group, Movement for the Protection of Oil Producing Communities in Nigeria Delta is of the view that such a development would compound the existing problems and create further tension in the region.

A statement by the group on Sunday made available to newsmen, it said it would take somebody from the oil producing areas to understand the plight of the people in order to support President Tinubu in solving most of the problems.

The statement signed by the chairman of the group, Oyosongo Frank and secretary, Godwin Edikan, noted that the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs is more about political expediency and the sole purpose for this ministry is to steer and co-ordinate the developmental activities in the region.

They said: “The rumour of appointing someone from a non-oil producing area as Minister of the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs is spreading like wildfire and gathering momentum as President Bola Ahmed Tinubu gets set to allocate portfolios to the newly appointed ministers. And the rumour has sparked reactions capable of degenerating into crisis if it turns out to be true.

“By the Nigerian constitution, every state is entitled to produce a minister and the president has fulfilled that requirement by nominating at least one person from each of the thirty-six (36) states of the federation.The distribution of portfolios to the appointed ministers is the prerogative of the president.

“However, in doing so, he is guided by certain principles. In a few cases, the candidate has to be grounded in a profession relevant to the ministry. For instance, the Ministry of Justice will always be manned by a lawyer in the calibre of a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) while the ministry of health will be of a person in the medical profession.

“While that is the case for these portfolios, that of the Ministry of the Niger Delta Affairs is more about political expediency and requires none other person than someone from an oil producing area in the Niger Delta region because the sole purpose for this ministry is to provide steer and co-ordination for the developmental activities in the region.

“However, its attraction is the supervisory role it plays over the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) that enjoys funding not only from the Federal Government but also from oil and gas companies, which unfortunately provides a breeding ground for sleaze money for certain individuals at the corridors of power.

“And that is what has generated interest to the extent that some forces within the Presidency are trying to foist what is perceived to be a broader ‘Yoruba Agenda’ on the people of the oil producing areas, including the Yoruba speaking people of Ilaje in Ondo State.

“The Yoruba speaking people of Ilaje in Ondo State, under the aegis of Ilaje Parapo Forum (IPF), a group formed to protect the interest of the oil producing communities in Ilaje, petitioned the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Tajudeen Abbas, not to re-appoint Hon. Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo as Chairman, House Committee on the NDDC, a position he held in the 9th Assembly, on the grounds that he is not from an oil producing area.

“Prior to this petition, the Ondo State chapter of the Niger Delta Emancipation and Justice Forum had accused Hon. Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo of diverting NDDC projects to non-oil producing areas when he served as the chairman of the committee, thereby denied the oil and gas producing communities of their rights.

“He was accused of diverting over sixty-six (66) projects and other benefits, including employment opportunities and youth empowerment programmes to his constituency and other non-oil producing areas. Hon. Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo represented the people of Akoko North East/Akoko North West Federal Constituency of Ondo State in the 9th Assembly and got reelected.

“He is now a minister of the Federal Republic, ready to be assigned a portfolio any time soon.This is the origin of the current rumour and cause of the palpable tension not only amongst the people of the oil producing communities in Ilaje but across the Niger Delta region. This rumour has gained momentum and it is doing so for a couple of reasons.

“Firstly, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, erstwhile speaker of the House of Representative, now the Chief of Staff to the President, appointed Hon. Olubunmi as the chairman of the committee on NDDC, when the former was the speaker knowing fully well that Hon. Olubunmi is not from an oil producing area and, also, in spite of protestations.

“Under this period, NDDC witnessed a series of scandals of sleaze contracts – the federal legislators being the key beneficiaries. The then minister of the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, now Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, asserted to this in a public investigative hearing conducted by the House.

“Mr. President must therefore wake up from his deep slumber and take charge of his responsibilities to the nation if he really wants to succeed as a president of this country. And putting square pegs in square holes in the matter of allocating portfolios to his team of ministers is one of those responsibilities he must discharge to the satisfaction of well-meaning Nigerians and to the people of the Niger Delta region in particular.

“Neither Hon. Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo from Ondo State nor any minister from a non-oil producing area should be given that portfolio because doing so portends a lot of danger, including derailing the lofty objectives set out for the ministry and the NDDC and possible effects of hampering crude oil production which should not be within the contemplation of this administration at this critical moment of the nation’s economy. The president should therefore simply pick any of the ministers from the core oil producing states of Bayelsa, Delta, Rivers and Akwa-Ibom to man Niger Delta Affairs ministry.”

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