OPINION: NDDC Board: Lauretta Onochie’s Appointment will Reinforce Development Trajectory for the Niger Delta region

By Gabriel Choba

The misgiving of discordance and cacophony of confusion raking up to disrupt the good intention of President Muhammadu Buhari’s agenda for the Niger Delta people, the Niger Delta region, and the Nigerian State is avoidable and must be kept in the dustbin where it belongs.

If we fail to ignore irrelevant dispositions, we will all suffer the consequences and painfully, time is running out on us today. We should not be doing yesterday’s thing today. Other nations are living their dreams of the future in today’s world.

As a rentier state, adequately depending on the oil rent to fund developmental projects, it will be illogical, unreasonable, and ill-conceived to hold the Niger Delta region backward and underdeveloped while the same fund is spreading development in other regions of the country unconnected to the oil resources.

The Niger Delta region’s Master Plan requires full implementation, but the fighting from within the region is causing massive disruption and distractions to effectively and efficiently settle the interventionist agency ( Niger Delta Development Commission- NDDC) to fully focus and function for the development of the region.

The prerogative of appointment to head the NDDC lies with the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Just like the football coach, he knows his team and each individual is fully capable of perfecting the purpose of setting up the team. Since focus increase impacts, the cacophony of voices spending time to cause division in the Niger Delta region is a misrepresentation of the majority of people of the region. The people are anxiously expecting development and not unnecessary agitations that are meaningless. These dissenting voices are selfish, biased, ill-politically driven, and bent on fueling their ego since their elite catchy is not considered in heading the interventionist agency.

What the Niger Delta people should be most concerned with at this moment, should be to recover lost time. Like Nwankwo Kanu whose career is centered around recovering and scoring winning goals, even when bought to the field of play at the eleventh hour. Lauretta Onochie’s appointment represents the same gesture.

The President’s sincerity about the Niger Delta Region cannot be questioned or faulted if the president’s discretion and constitutional power are disallowed from appointing a trusted member of his team from the region that can deliver on the president’s promise for the region.

Beyond politics, is governance. Effective governance is a criterion for public service delivery and development. It is time to allow the goodwill of the president and the voice of reason to cause development to occur in the region.

All voices dispelling and questioning the nomination of Lauretta Onochie should consider the president’s trust in appointing his special assistant to head the interventionist agency in the eleventh hour of his administration. The president is confident that Lauretta Onochie is capable and can deliver on the mandate expected of her.

She has been tested and trusted by the president. As an in-house aid of the president, the logic of her appointment means she has the capacity, confidence, and trust of the president. Most significantly for the Niger Delta, her appointment was not a second guest appointment through proxies recommendation. The president knows her one-on-one and is entrusting the specific challenge of the Niger Delta region to her attention.

She has complete access to the President and has complete knowledge of President Buhari’s politics- administration dynamics. The Niger Delta region cannot afford to miss this rare privilege of access that is expediently obvious a factor that can aid the lobbying of the president’s favour for the region. As a Niger Delta amazon that has navigated the presidency, it is a golden opportunity to place the Niger Delta region in prominent alignment with the president’s trusted ally. She is open to valuable and objective discourse on the way forward.

Taking time out to fix the Niger Delta region would require capacity, commitment, and foresight. Measuring up these combinations to access the presidential powers is a rare gift to the region that must not be taken for granted. Remember Esther’s biblical deliverance of her people in their time of need. A voice of reasoning holds sway if the outcome serves a purpose that is defined, promotes liberty, and enriches humanity.

Lauretta Onochie’s precedence in the President’s appointment has had a history of opposition. For a reason, it is becoming an obvious distraction that negative forces are behind her triumphant exploration to do the good she is cut out for on behalf of a dying region.

We can start by asking these questions to underscore what these opposition forces are after. Can she deliver? Does she have the passion to drive development for the region? Does she know the region’s problems? Does she have a template to tackle the issues in the region and drive the development trajectory? Excitingly, the answers to these important questions are a big positive and loud YES.

Who are those afraid of Lauretta Onochie’s precedents? Do they mean well? Are they objective? Do they want attention by causing disaffection? The answers are obvious in the open. To save the Niger Delta from itself, we need to be reasonable, passionate, and committed to addressing the wrong of the past.

Given Lauretta Onochie’s track record as an educationist and administrator who is professionally inclined to work, the political class and their cohort know the lobby for jobs without the capacity to deliver and the propensity to execute with job specification will be zealously rejected.

Those holding the region backward in the past are the ones beating the drums of opposition against the threat of her ethical conduct of the NDDC. It is a clean-up exercise. Time is up for frivolity and fraud reminiscent of the Niger Delta region’s NDDC. The shake-up is coming and they know the impact will not serve the interest of those laundering the commission’s funds. The distaste of Lauretta Onochie’s opposition is coming to expose greed and frustration about the mainstay of a few without thinking about the majority of the people in the region that wants the social justice that Lauretta Onochie can deliver. Reforms in the NDDC are obvious and
Lauretta Onochie’s touch will attend to locking the licking pipe of the NDDC to allow for the desired massive development of the Night Delta region.

Having presented the nomination for appointment as Chairman of NDDC Board subject to the Senate for screening and confirmation, I urge the senate of the federal republic of Nigeria to stand with the voice of reason to help the Niger Delta region deploy its best human resources suited for the job to deliver the president’s good intentions for the region.

I am persuaded by the zeal of the president and the capacity of Lauretta Onochie, that the NDDC will take on the challenges of the Niger Delta with quick strikes. We have wasted too much time to get to this point. The right decision is to support the president’s wish and accord Lauretta Onochie the goodwill of transforming the Niger Delta region in a short time. Doing the best for the region is a matter of purpose, vision, and passion.

All are trapped in Lauretta Onochie’s capacity to deliver. The Niger Delta women, youth, and majority of the people are solidly behind your appointment. As an advocate of democracy and good governance, Lauretta Onochie had passed the criteria for pushing the development trajectory of the Niger Delta to positive and sustainable development.

Gabriel Choba, a Journalist, writes from Warri, Delta State.

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