By Dare Adekanmbi
THE impending appointment of a substantive Managing Director for the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) appears to have set on a collision course three bigwigs in the All Progressives Congress (APC) jostling to have their nominee clinch the job.
A Presidency source told Sunday Tribune the power play over the position centres mainly around APC national leader, Senator Bola Tinubu, the party’s national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole and the immediate past Transport Minister, Rotimi Amaechi.
While Tinubu is said to be making “a strong case” that the NDDC slot, for the first time, should come from the South-West and Ondo State precisely, Oshiomhole is rooting for a candidate from Edo State who is a former member of the Honourable of Representatives, Samson Osagie.
Amaechi, who was said to have largely influenced the membership of the immediate past NDDC board, is said to be pushing for the confirmation of the current acting Managing Director, Professor Nelson Brambaifa, whose appointment in acting capacity he was said to have influenced.
The power play is coming in the heels of feelers that President Buhari might be contemplating a reconstitution of the board of the interventionist agency which was dissolved about five months ago.
The dissolved board, which had former Senate leader, Senator Victor Ndoma Egba and Mr Nsima Ekere as chairman and MD respectively, was replaced by an interim management with a one-time Bayelsa State representative on the board, Professor Nelson Brambaifa, as acting MD.
An engineer, Samuel Adjogbe, as well as Chidi Oyinrindah are also on board as Executive Director, Projects and Executive Director of Finance respectively, with Adjogbe said to be part of the dissolved Ekere-led management.
Except Chief Otega Emerhor, who was said to have nominated Adjogbe, all but the Ondo State representative on the dissolved NDDC board were said to have been nominated by Amaechi, a development, it was learnt, caused frosty relationship with a former governor of Bayelsa State, Chief Timipre Sylva, until lately.
Also, the Ondo State deputy governor, Honourable Agboola Ajayi and Chief Olusola Oke (SAN) are said to be angling to land the job.
Sunday Tribune checks showed that while it is unclear if the Ondo deputy governor has the backing of the governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, Oke is said to be enjoying the support of Tinubu.
It was gathered that the move by the deputy governor of Ondo State to gun for the position might not be unconnected with his desire not to run for a second term alongside Governor Akeredolu.
He is also said to be making secret consultations with associates ahead of the governorship election in the state as a result of crisis of confidence between him and Akeredolu.
“The race for the headship of the agency is getting more interesting by the day; this time around, it appears Amaechi may not have a field day like he had the other time because other big fishes have entered the river. Already, we are seeing the signs of people trying to outplay one another.
“So much intrigues have come into play and this time around, it’s survival of the fittest from all indications because the case of Ondo which is being pushed by a prominent leader of the party looks very strong and it cannot be ignored at all.
“If Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Delta and Bayelsa have all had the MD position twice, it then means that Ondo which is the fifth in production quota should be given a chance to produce the next MD of NDDC.
“Yes, Edo has good case too but since Ondo is higher in production quota than Edo, I strongly believe that our national chairman can show understanding for the Sunshine state to take this turn for Edo to follow next.
“What is most disturbing was the idea that anyone who occupies the position of NDDC MD thinks it is a springboard for the governorship of his state. We are trying to discourage that notion because it does not give room for the NDDC to be focused on its vision for the people of the Niger Delta region,” he said.
Oke, who served as the South-West coordinator of the 2019 APC presidential campaign was said to have secured Tinubu’s support and backing for the NDDC job only after he was told to shelve his 2020 governorship aspiration.
It was unclear if the recent invitation of the acting NDDC MD, Brambaifa by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) was connected with the ongoing power game in respect of the position.
Also invited for questioning by the EFCC over alleged financial impropriety was the Executive Director, Finance and Administration of the NDDC, Chris Oyirindah.
It was learnt that the NDDC managing director and the commission’s EFDA were involved in the alleged withdrawal of N2.8bn between two weeks ago and last week.