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Sunday, 7 July 2013
Most Wanted: A New And Vibrant NDDC Board
WITH a few weeks left in the life of the present Board of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and in the midst of massive fraud allegations against the outgoing Board, the race for the top positions in the interventionist agency has gained momentum, with indications that the Presidency may prefer to appoint Board members from a mixed bag of knowledgeable politicians and technocrats, while the chief executive and executive directors may be recruited from within the NDDC itself.
The decision to look inward for the a new chief executive and perhaps executive directors may stem from the desire by the Presidency to engage experienced and effective managerial hands that properly understand the complexity of the assignment and would be able to mobilise staff and materials quickly to accomplish the long awaited transformation of the Niger Delta Region. The wish of the Presidency, according to our sources, is to replicate other government agencies such as the NNPC, where the management team is usually groomed and recruited from within. If this plan comes to pass, it would be the first time in the life of the 12 year-old agency, that the chief executive would be an existing staff of the Commission. “This would ensure the appointment of an MD who would hit the ground and run, rather than a low capacity outsider, as in recent cases, who would sometimes take more than a year to go through the learning curve and in the process waste precious time on petty infighting that detract from the mandate of the agency,” a source said.
In addition, the source said the persistent lack of focus, reckless award of contracts, widespread abandonment of projects, ignorance of the regional master plan and pervasive corruption that have characterized recent leadership of the NDDC irk the Presidency.
The next chairman of the Board is expected to be appointed from Cross River State, while the MD will be appointed from Akwa Ibom State. So far, three names are making the rounds as possible appointees as chairman of the Board. They are Ukam Edodi, a seasoned administrator and retired director in NDDC; Bassey Ekefre, another seasoned administrator, who was President Jonathan’s boss some years ago in the defunct OMPADEC; Ekpo Okon, a former board member of NDDC and one-time chairman of PDP in Cross River State and Imaobong Inyang, the incumbent commissioner representing Akwa Ibom on the Board of NDDC.
For the post of MD/CEO, ten candidates are said to have expressed interest in the top job. They include Edikan Eshett, the incumbent Executive Director, Projects; Prof. Richard King, a close aide of President Jonathan and member of the Presidential Monitoring Committee (PMC) on NDDC; Etido Inyang, a close aide of Governor Godswill Akpabio, who is currently a Special Adviser to the Governor on Technical Matters; and whose elder brother, Sam Inyang, was a board member of NDDC for four years. Others frequently mentioned for the top job are; Bassey Dan-Abia, a former commissioner and acting chairman of the NDDC, who is currently in the cabinet of Governor Akpabio; Mr. Anietie Usen, multiple award winning journalist, who has headed various departments of the NDDC since 2002 and now serves as the Director in charge of Abia State; Princewill Ekanem, a medical doctor who is now the director in charge of Bayelsa State; and Hon. Ndueso Essien, the former minister of Housing during the Yar’Adua administration.
Should the President prefer a civil servant and an insider in the Commission as being speculated, the focus may turn mainly to Dr. Ekanem and Mr. Usen. Harvard and Oxford trained, Usen began his journalism career in Punch Newspapers, before he joined Newswatch magazine as a pioneer reporter where he rose to become the General Editor before he went ahead to work for the London-based Africa Today magazine, as West African Regional Editor. He was also in the Board of Editors of Thisday Newspapers. His online profile also shows that he was for five years the General Manager/CEO of Akwa Ibom Newspaper Corporation and Special Assistant to the Governor of Akwa Ibom State in the 90’s. On the other hand, Dr. Ekanem was in private medical practice before he joined NDDC, first as Special Assistant to the EDP, before he converted into a civil servant status. He holds several degrees outside medicine and was until recently the director in charge of Youths, Sports, Culture and Women Affairs.
The source said both would however; have to convince Governor Akpabio of their complete loyalty before he nominates them for the appointment by President Goodluck Jonathan.