Since the creation of Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, it was seen as platform by politicians to get themselves empowered financially and acquire high level of influence to contest for gubernatorial elections. In fact, Senator Godswil Akpabio, the honorable minister of Niger Delta Affairs, acknowledged this and attributed it to the reason behind the underperformance of past leaders of the agency. He also said that the reason corruption exists in the agency is because past leaders channel the resources of the commission to prosecute their gubernatorial interests.
After doing some extensive research, I found out that indeed four past leaders of the agency, including the inaugural chairman and managing director, as well as the immediate past managing director of the commission, had sought the gubernatorial seats of their states during their time as leaders of the agency. Ironically, neither of them ever actualised their ambitions of governing their respective states.
Here are the four former leaders of NDDC that ran for governorship election of their states after their appointment into the Commission:
1. Mr Timi Alaibe
At the formation of NDDC in 2000, Mr Timi Alaibe, a native of Bayelsa state, was appointed as the Executive Director, Finance and Administration, by President Olusegun Obasanjo. While still NDDC executive director, Mr Alaibe got the backing of President Obasanjo to challenge Chief Diepreye Alamesiegha, the Governor of Bayelsa state, for the 2003 gubernatorial candidacy of PDP in Bayelsa state.
After failing to defeat Chief Alamesiegha, Mr Alaibe returned to his position as NDDC executive director. In April 2007, he was elevated to yhe position of Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of the commission. Before his elevation, he challenged Dr Goodluck Jonathan, the successor of Alamesiegha who was seeking a fresh term in office, for the PDP governorship nomination but failed.
After his loss, he continued in his position as MD of NDDC and used it to prepare for 2011 governorship election. After leaving office in 2009, Mr Alaibe sought for the gubernatorial seat of Bayelsa state in February 2012 under the platform of Labour Party, but he failed again as he was defeated by Hon Seriake Dickson of PDP. He also made a third attempt in 2015 after returning to Peopls Democratic Party, but was defeated at the primary election by Hon Henry Seriake Dickson. In 2015, he defected to APC and got the backing of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu to run for the gubernatorial seat in the state, but was defeated at the primary election of APC by a former governor of the state, Chief Timipre Sylva.
2. Chief Onyema Ugochukwu
At the formation of NDDC, Chief Ugochukwu was appointed as the inaugural chairman of the agency. Before his appointment, he was a Special Adviser to President Obasanjo and was seen as a rival to Dr Orji Uzpr Kalu, the sitting governor of Abia state as at then. Onyeama, upon his appointment as NDDC boss, immediately set his sight on the gubernatorial seat of Abia state. He made attempt to challenge Dr Kalu in 2003 but was defeated by the Governor at the PDP primary. In 2007, he succeeded in winning the gubernatorial nomination of PDP but was again defeated by Chief Theodore Ahamefuna Orji, the candidate of Progressive Peoples Alliance that was in prison during the election.
3. Chief Basey Dan-Abia
Chief Dan Abia was a commissioner for justice and attorney general of Akwa Ibom state between 2003 and 2007 until his appointment into the board of NDDC to represent Akwa Ibom in 2007. He was also reappointed to the agency in 2009, and only exited in 2011 at the termination of his term. In 2012, he was appointed as commissioner for housing in Akwa Ibom state.
In December 2013, Dan-Abia returned to NDDC as managing director and chief executive officer of the agency. Upon his appointment, he began to nurse gubernatorial ambition of Akwa Ibom state ahead of the 2015 election. Although he retained his position after losing his gubernatorial ambition, Dan-Abia was eventually fired by President Buhari n 2015.
In 2019, he was among the aspirants that signified interest to run for Akwa Ibom governorship seat under the platform of All Progressive Congress, but he was not preferred as the candidate of the party as the APC settled for Mr Nsima Ekere, the then incumbent managing director of the commission.
4. Mr Nsima Ekere
Nsima Ekere, a former deputy governor of Akwa Ibom state between 2007 and 2012, was appointed as the substantive managing director and chief executive officer of NDDC in November 2016 by President Buhari. Upon his appointment, he activated his gubernatorial interest in Akwa Ibom state ahead of the 2019 general election. Mr Ekere, eventually emerged as the candidate of APC for the 2019 general election to actualise his ambition, but he was defeated by Mr Udom Gabriel Emmanuel, the sitting governor and candidate of PDP during the election.
Written by Tamunotonye Inioribo || [email protected]
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