Since his appointment late last year as Interim Administrator of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Barrister Efiong Akwa initially struggled to gain acceptance and his due recognition as a leader of the Niger Delta region. For weeks, there were some misguided agitation for his removal by certain groups who did not understand the credible reasons behind his appointment.
Some of the agitations against Akwa’s appointment carried ethnic colouration premised skewed emotional sentiments. However, in the last one week, Akwa has been changing the narratives against his appointment, drawing massive support from key figures across the Niger Delta region who understand the necessity of his appointment as Interim Administrator under the prevailing circumstances at the NDDC.
Among those who have thrown their weight behind the appointment of Barrister Akwa’s appointment as Interim Administrator of the NDDC is Chief E. Clark, prominent Ijaw leader and national Statesman whom Akwa alongside the Minister for Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio visited in Clark’s Abuja residence.
During the courtesy call on him by key officials of the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs and the NDDC, Clark appealed to the youths and other stakeholders of the Niger Delta region to give the Interim Administrator of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) Mr Effiong Akwa, a chance to execute the mandate handed over to him by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Akwa who visited the Asokoro, Abuja residence of the Ijaw leader alongside his entourage, was welcomed by prominent Niger Delta personalities including Ambassador Godsknows Igali, former Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Power.
While receiving the NDDC team, Clark noted that Mr Akwa was not the first Interim Administrator of the NDDC and wondered why certain persons should make a fuss about his appointment. He stated that in the past, States like Bayelsa, Rivers and Delta had at some point produced Interim Administrators who ran the interventionist agency and appealed to all to support Akwa to succeed.
He warned any persons planning anything unruly that would tend to give a bad impression about the Niger Delta region as restive to desist from such acts and called for support for the Interim Administrator to bring developmental projects to the region, noting that it is only in an atmosphere of peace that development can thrive.
During the visit, Akwa informed the Niger Delta leader that his appointment was borne out of necessity being the most Senior Director so as not to create a vacuum since the Court had ordered the disbandment of the Interim Management Committee of the Commission. The Interim Administrator appealed for the cooperation of the stakeholders in the ongoing forensic audit of the Commission being the mandate handed over to him by the President to see through. He thanked the National Assembly for the support he has received since his appointment especially the passage of the budget of the Commission. He said the Commission had concluded the payment of scholarships to her overseas scholars, completed the NDDC headquarters Complex which he said would soon be commissioned by President Buhari.
In another development, key stakeholders in the development of the Niger Delta region have applauded President Muhammadu Buhari for re-positioning the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, to fast-track the development of Nigeria’s oil-rich region. The stakeholders stated this after a meeting of the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, the NDDC, the Federal Amnesty Programme and a group of ex-agitators at the Palace of the Amanyanabo of Okochiri, King Ateke Michael Tom, in Okrika Local Government Area of Rivers State.
A resolution jointly signed by King Ateke Tom, Chief Ebikabowei Victor-Ben (Boyloaf) and High Chief Bibopre Ajube (Shoot at sight), thanked President Buhari for appointing Mr Efiong Akwa as the NDDC Interim Administrator and for his “love and support” for the Niger Delta region. The meeting was attended by the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, the NDDC Interim Administrator, Mr Efiong Akwa and the Interim Administrator of the Amnesty Programme, Col. Milland Dixion Dikio (rtd.).
The stakeholders declared: “Let us put it on record that the appointment of Chief Akwa as the Interim Administrator of the NDDC is well received by our people. We want to emphasise that no one is more Niger Delta than anyone else.
“We are aware of the circumstances that led to his appointment as a child of circumstance. He should be supported by anyone that means well for the region. We are also aware of the Court order that sacked the previous Interim Management Committee, IMC. But because Akwa was not part of the suit that sacked the IMC, and being the most Senior Executive Director, Finance and Administration, EDF&A, Mr. President appointed him to hold forth and conclude the forensic audit before a new Board takes over.
“We know Mr. President will also appoint him as the substantive EDF&A when the time comes. Because of his pedigree and track record of success. He is carrying everybody along and we are happy with the appointment.
They called on all youth groups and various organisations to cooperate with the new leadership of the NDDC to ensure the rapid development of the Niger Delta region.
The tide is changing, the narrative has swung in a different direction. A direction that calls for all stakeholders in Nigeria specially those interested in the development of the Niger Delta region to partner for the good of the region.