NDDC: What’s Nsima Ekere still do­ing there?

Sunday Trust - - VIEW POINT - With Mon­ima Dam­inabo email: [email protected]­hoo.co.uk 0805 9252424 (sms only)

Ade­vel­op­ment that must qual­ify as a most wor­ri­some de­vel­op­ment in the con­tem­po­rary for­tunes of the Niger Delta De­vel­op­ment Com­mis­sion (NDDC), is the brazen politi­ciza­tion of the po­si­tion of the Manag­ing Di­rec­tor with the in­cum­bent - Mr Nsima Ekere, re­main­ing in of­fice sev­eral months af­ter he statu­to­rily ceased to be el­i­gi­ble. In a crass breach of ex­tant Pub­lic Ser­vice Rules which ap­ply to all cat­e­gories of ap­pointed pub­lic ser­vants, in­clud­ing of­fi­cers of Ekere’s cal­iber, he as an ap­pointed pub­lic of­fi­cer is cur­rently serv­ing as the MD NDDC as well as hold­ing a po­lit­i­cal of­fice as the authen­tic gu­ber­na­to­rial can­di­date of the All Pro­gres­sives Congress (APC) for Akwa Ibom State, in the forth­com­ing 2019 gen­eral polls. He is there­fore wear­ing two caps si­mul­ta­ne­ously - one as the chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of the NDDC and the other as a full blooded politi­cian and likely gover­nor of one of the states of the Niger Delta re­gion, which con­sti­tute the op­er­a­tional am­bit of the in­ter­ven­tion­ist agency.

The NDDC was es­tab­lished in June 2000 with the pri­mary mis­sion of fa­cil­i­tat­ing the rapid, even and sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment of the Niger Delta into a re­gion that is eco­nom­i­cally pros­per­ous, so­cially sta­ble, eco­log­i­cally re­gen­er­a­tive and po­lit­i­cally peace­ful. Now in its eigh­teenth year the ques­tion of how far the agency has suc­cess­fully ex­e­cuted its multi-di­men­sional man­date, re­mains a mat­ter of con­jec­ture. While co­pi­ous stocks of re­sources in terms of money and ma­te­ri­als have been de­ployed in the zone, and nu­mer­ous projects have been ex­e­cuted ac­cord­ingly, the fu­ture of the en­tire in­ter­ven­tion­ist agenda of the NDDC re­quires more dis­cre­tional man­age­ment and cor­re­spond­ing up­grade of the re­sources en­dow­ment for the re­gion.

Mean­while, in the course of time the agency had suf­fered spo­radic in-house tur­bu­lences aris­ing from sundry power plays among its of­fi­cers who are usu­ally drawn from the var­i­ous tar­get states. Un­til 2015 and ex­cept for Edo State, the en­tire Niger Delta zone was un­der the sway of the Peo­ples Demo­cratic Party (PDP), which was also the party in power at the cen­tre in Abuja. Hence the zone fea­tured po­lit­i­cal lead­ers had cause to be more tol­er­ant of each other.

How­ever, with the rel­a­tive loss of power by the PDP in 2015 and the im­mi­nence of the 2019 polls, the po­lit­i­cal land­scape of the zone had also changed re­mark­ably, with deep par­ti­san di­vi­sions among the same po­lit­i­cal lead­ers of the zone. Put suc­cinctly, the power struc­ture in the zone is now po­lar­ized between the rul­ing APC and the main op­po­si­tion PDP. How Mr Nsima Ekere as the MD of the re­gional body will op­er­ate without pan­der­ing to par­ti­san in­ter­ests and per­sua­sions re­mains a won­der, just as it is strange to the reg­u­lar pro­cesses of Nige­rian pol­i­tics.

Without prej­u­dice to the gen­tle­man’s pedi­gree is the fact that his present om­nibus sta­tus con­sti­tutes a clear breach of ex­tant Pub­lic Ser­vice Rules. As an in­di­vid­ual Mr Nsima Ekere eas­ily re­mains one of the most promis­ing po­lit­i­cal fig­ures in his home state Akwa Ibom, and there­fore is el­i­gi­ble un­der nor­mal cir­cum­stances to oc­cupy any of­fice on be­half of his peo­ple, in the land. Even his choice as the APC gov­er­nor­ship can­di­date in the forth­com­ing 2019 polls con­sti­tutes a pointer to his merit with re­spect to the po­lit­i­cal per­mu­ta­tions in that state.

How­ever, it is for the rea­son of his ed­i­fi­ca­tion that he needs to align with valid guid­ance with re­spect to toe­ing the path of rec­ti­tude as far as pub­lic ser­vice is con­cerned. It is there­fore in Res­ig­na­tion is nec­es­sary be­fore seek­ing pub­lic of­fice. How­beit any of­fi­cer wish­ing to en­gage in par­ti­san po­lit­i­cal ac­tiv­i­ties or seek elec­tive of­fice, shall re­sign his/ her ap­point­ment forth­with. that con­text that this ad­vi­sory is fea­tur­ing on this col­umn to­day. For in­stance, Sec­tion 030423 of the cur­rent (2008) ver­sion of the coun­try’s Pub­lic Ser­vice Rules (PSR) is clear on the po­si­tion of the law with re­spect to ap­pointed pub­lic ser­vants and the con­test for elec­tive of­fices. For in­stance, Sec­tion 030423 un­der con­sid­er­a­tion ex­pressly for­bids any such of­fi­cer from oc­cu­py­ing po­lit­i­cal party po­si­tions such as Mr Ekere is presently do­ing. Ac­cord­ing to that sec­tion “Res­ig­na­tion is nec­es­sary be­fore seek­ing pub­lic of­fice. How­beit any of­fi­cer wish­ing to en­gage in par­ti­san po­lit­i­cal ac­tiv­i­ties or seek elec­tive of­fice, shall re­sign his/her ap­point­ment forth­with”.

Fur­ther to the strict pro­vi­sions of the PSR is the pre­ced­ing sec­tion 030422 which in var­i­ous sub­sec­tions states that “No of­fi­cer shall without ex­press per­mis­sion of the Gov­ern­ment, whether on duty or leave of ab­sence, (a) Hold any of­fice, paid or un­paid, per­ma­nent or tem­po­rary, in any po­lit­i­cal or­ga­ni­za­tion. (b) Of­fer him­self/her­self or nom­i­nate any­one else as a can­di­date for any elec­tive of­fice in­clud­ing mem­ber­ship of a lo­cal gov­ern­ment coun­cil, State or Na­tional As­sem­bly. (c). In­di­cate pub­licly his/her sup­port or op­po­si­tion to any party, can­di­date or pol­icy. (d) En­gage in can­vass­ing sup­port of po­lit­i­cal can­di­dates.

From the fore­go­ing it is in­con­tro­vert­ible that ex­cept for the fact that an ex­press per­mis­sion had been for­mally ob­tained from the Pres­i­dent which al­lows Mr Ekere to en­joy the un­com­mon priv­i­lege of a dual man­date as both MD of NDDC and the gu­ber­na­to­rial can­di­date of the APC for Akwa Ibom, he re­mains un­fit for the po­si­tion for now. His stay in NDDC any­time af­ter his nom­i­na­tion as the APC gov­er­nor­ship can­di­date, con­sti­tutes a patent act of im­punity and breach of ex­tant pub­lic ser­vice rules, as well as the law of the land. Even if there was a Pres­i­den­tial ap­proval for his case, such would still be ir­reg­u­lar since there is no spe­cial rea­son in the pub­lic do­main to pro­vide the ba­sis for such ap­proval. Be­yond any other rea­son such an anom­aly con­sti­tutes an un­due ad­van­tage for Akwa Ibom State, to the dis­ad­van­tage of the other Niger Delta States.

How­ever, a far more in­sid­i­ous an­gle to Ekere’s dual man­date is the patent threat with man­i­fest ad­ver­sar­ial im­pli­ca­tions, which his con­tin­ued stay in the NDDC con­sti­tutes with re­spect to the in­ter­ests of other Niger Delta states, es­pe­cially those out­side the con­trol of the APC, in­clud­ing his home state, Akwa Ibom. In his ca­pac­ity of a con­tes­tant to the seat of the Akwa Ibom State gover­nor, his de­ploy­ment of par­ti­san con­sid­er­a­tions in the dis­charge of his du­ties can­not be ruled out. That fac­tor alone con­sti­tutes the ba­sis for vul­ner­a­ble in­ter­ests in­clud­ing the other Niger Delta states to ques­tion his con­tin­ued stay in in the driv­ing seat of the NDDC.

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