Nsima Ekere, the managing director/CEO of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), has achieved his long-standing dream which is to pick a ticket to fight for the governorship of Akwa Ibom State. He has left very big political appointments including deputy governor and left the party of his youth, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), just to land the ticket. Now, he has picked the ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the February 2019 election.
By this development, and by the provision of the Electoral Act, he must resign from his position MD/CEO of the NDDC three months on the dot to election day. This resignation deadline is drawing fast, thus opening a window for the appointment of at least an acting CEO. The slot has narrowed to Rivers and Bayelsa States so far.
It filtered into Port Harcourt at the weekend that the man that stood for then Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi in the Rivers State House of Assembly few years ago and involved in the mace fight has been approved by the presidency merely waiting for signing off by the Secretary to the Federal Government (SFG) but this is said to be held up.
Sources said the in-fighting in the Presidency is one of the reasons for the failure to announce the name from Emuohua area of Rivers State, a strong APC fighter that has stood all manner of pressure from the rivals in the state. He is a trusted Amaechi loyalist. It was further gathered that some big wigs at the Federal Government felt they were not taking into confidence in the nomination and may have crossed their feet. Negotiations are said to be ongoing to free the name.
Another factor is said to be the Bayelsa angle. A former governor of Bayelsa State is said to have nominated himself but this was said to have been rejected because the presidency did not allegedly seem disposed to former governors taking turns at the NDDC. The man is said to eye a return to the seat of power in his state and may want a big financial lift as the NDDC could easily be. He was said to have later nominated a person but the suspicion had already grown very huge.
This is said to have opened a window for former top official in the state whose nomination is said to enjoy support from some top persons in Abuja and Lagos who are said to be pushing at the presidency to drop Amaechi’s candidate and sign off the new name from Bayelsa. This is said to be the stage of the matter as the region waits for the final announcement by the SFG.
The matter has reopened the issue of who should be accorded all the trappings of leader of the APC in South-South, a position many had taken for granted for Amaechi when the APC was not popular in the oil region. Now, many have seen how Buhari seems to respect regional leaders of the party and they have all allegedly come out to drag the title. Now, names such as Timi Sylva from Bayelsa, Adams Oshiomhole from Edo and GoodwillAkpabio seem to want that recognition. Some say a senator was higher than minister and so should be considered as leader of the APC in the south-south. Many are said to feel that Amaechi was getting so much, having appointed so many persons into federal positions since 2015.
In the appointment of an NDDC CEO, competence is said to be the last on the minds of the appointers, though some groups have started calling for merit instead of political patronage as the basis for arriving at the choice of the CEO for the commission. For now, the consideration may remain the ability of the appointee to shovel out huge sums of money to help fund elections.
The NDDC budgets an average of N300billion per year and almost all of this is for capital expenditure unlike in most states that devote more than 70 percent of their allocations to salaries. This is why most people argue that their sons running the Commission as CEO should not relinquish the position to jump to governor because it would be a loss of one to get another, whereas if they held on to it, another son would be governor, thereby bringing two positions equal in budgetary allocations to that of a governor. It would be like having two governors in one state.
This seems to be so since November 2016 when Akwa Ibom’s Nsima climbed to the 7th floor of the NDDC Tower in Port Harcourt. He has pushed so much funds and projects to Akwa Ibom that most persons there wish he stayed on. Their loss may be that of Rivers or Bayelsa. Some however, say the position of governor has huge allure plus the power to appoint and control many local councils and parastatals and affect the lives of men and women.
It is not clear if Nsima met his set target in the NDDC in the short time he has been there, or if he ever wanted to achieve it. He had set his goals thus: Regional Development/Integration; Ecological management & Healthcare awareness; Stakeholder Engagement/work with Development Partners and NGOs; Human Capital Development/Foster Youth Engagement; Developing the Non-oil sector thereby attracting new industries.
He had said his success would be measured thus: “For each of the listed priorities, key performance indicators designed to motivate behaviours in our communities and create transparency on our performance will determine success.”
It is not clear if he has seen this indicator in the communities. Those assessing him however, would not be using these indicators but by how much he or any other NDDC boss would be able to fund campaigns.
In his farewell address to newsmen, if there would be any, he would be expected to list his successes along these targets. What is obvious is that the much-abandoned NDDC permanent building at Marine Base which he swore to deliver has not progressed any much. The plan by his predecessor to build permanent structures for the state offices instead of huge rents that are often inflated has hardly continued after the Port Harcourt model.
This, according to Nsima’s admirers, is not to say much has not been achieved, but expecting him to transform the Niger Delta in so short a time is unrealistic.