Members of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the Niger Delta have raised the alarm that the actions of the Minister for Niger Delta Affairs is undermining the cohesion of the party in the region. A statement by the Niger Delta APC Grassroots Movement said that “by taking unilateral decisions and ignoring consensus in the affairs of the Niger Delta Development Commission, the minister is alienating those who have worked hard to establish the party in our zone.”
The statement, which was signed by Osas Omorodion, Chairman; Matthew Ekong, Secretary and Ochuko Akpomedaye, Publicity Secretary; claimed that Akpabio’s interference with the constitution of the board of the Commission has become a fractious point for the ruling party in the Niger Delta States, it added that the “minister is monopolising the agency and determining the affairs of the commission against the letters and spirit of the NDDC Act, which demands representation from all the constituent states such as Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Imo, Ondo and Rivers States. Today he has ignored a board comprised of technocrats and committed members of our great party to settle for a handpicked 3-man committee, even against the advise of leaders of our party.”
“We note that the National Vice Chairman of the APC South South Mr Hillard Eta had in a recent statement warned against the minister’s actions in the NDDC and we agree with him wholeheartedly. Akpabio is carrying on like a man on a mission to destroy the APC in the South South with the actions he is taking to ignore the new Board and we hope that he is not a mole in the party. We call on the leadership of the party to call the minister to order and bring order to the party in the South South zone. W efear that if Akpabio is allowed to carry on like a law unto himself, we risk reversing the gains that the APC has made in the Niger Delta States, especially in Edo, Delta and Bayelsa States through the hardwork of people like Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege and Chief Timipre Sylva and others in other states of the region.”
The APC’s disaffection with Akpabio was first noticed about two weeks ago when leaders of the party rose in opposition against the unilateral selection of a 3-man interim management committee by the minister for the NDDC at a time the Senate had commenced the screening of nominees sent by the President. In a statement on Sunday November 3, 2019, Mr Hillard Eta, APC National Vice Chairman South South, said: “Akpabio should not be embarrassing us. The president has set up a governing council and Akpabio would come and set up an interim management committee. It is unacceptable to the stakeholders of the Niger Delta. It is our position that the NDDC should be removed from the Ministry of Niger Delta and brought back to the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation(SGF), under the Presidency where the Niger Delta people can have maximum benefit”.
Similarly, APC State Chairmen and Secretaries have opposed the Minister’s actions. The coalition of state chairmen of APC said in a statement signed by their Chairman, Ali Dolari; and Secretary, Ben Nwoye; “He (minister) has vested interest to annex the Niger Delta Development Commission as a unit of the Niger Delta Ministry where he is the minister. “We query the rationale behind Akpabio’s hastened moves to impose an illegal Interim Management Committee in breach of the NDDC Act, particularly his naming of one Dr Cairo Ojougboh, a medical doctor, as the acting Executive Director, Projects, whereas the NDDC establishment Act makes it mandatory for the occupant of that office to be a certified engineer with the requisite engineering certificates and membership of statutory regulatory bodies. What does Akpabio intend to achieve by hurriedly appointing Dr Joy Nunieh, who incidentally is the Rivers State Representative, as acting Managing Director of his unconstitutional interim management committee whereas, he is aware of President Muhammadu Buhari’s appointment of a substantive board currently undergoing screening at the Senate?”