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Our attention has been drawn to the ongoing campaign of calumny, orchestrated by amorphous groups and self-serving individuals in the Niger-Delta region, to smear, malign and utterly discredit the Sole Administrator of the Niger-Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Barrister Efiong Akwa.

In their ceaseless banalities, these shadowy purveyors of hatred have hired paid protesters to protest and flood the media space with their paid agents to feed the public with outright lies and deliberate falsehood. Their sole aim is to put a tar brush on the well- intended, deserved appointment of this illustrious Son of Niger-Delta by President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR to head the crisis-riddenedCommission with the assigned mandate to fast-track and facilitate the conclusion of the ongoing forensic audit.

In their self-delusion, these peddlers of falsehood have alleged that, the Sole Administrator of the NDDC, Barrister Efiong Akwa, was unilaterally imposed on the Commission by the Minister of Niger-Delta, Senator Godswill Akpabio. Another of their strange tale in circulation is that, Barr. Efiong Akwa is not from oil producing Community in the Niger-Delta.

Ordinarily, one would have totally ignored these unfounded vituperations from those fanning the embers of disunity in the Niger-Delta region but the more we tried to downplay and close our eyes to their ignoble activities, the more they continuously spew out falsehood to hoodwink unsuspecting members of the public in order to draw attention to their infamous agenda.

This reaction therefore, becomes necessary to put the records straight for the benefit of the general public.

1. Firstly, the allegation that Barr. Efiong Akwa was unilaterally imposed as the Sole Administrator of the NDDC by Niger-Delta Minister, Senator GodswillAkpabio is false. Barr. Efiong Akwa was first appointed by Mr. President in October, 2020 to fill the position of Executive Director, Finance and Administration, which was vacant, following the death of the EDFA Mr. IbangaEtang in the recently dissolved Interim Management Committee. The President’s appointment of Barr. Efiong Akwa as the Sole Administrator of the NDDC followed a High Court judgment, which declared Professor Keme Pondei-led Interim Management Committee of the NDDC illegal. Since Barr. Efiong Akwa was not joined in the suit, it therefore became expedient for Mr. President to elevate him to that position to engender continuity and stability in the management of the NDDC. It is therefore a figment of imagination and insult to the person of Mr. President for anybody to think that Senator Akpabiois now the one dictating and teleguiding him.

2. Secondly, the allegation that Barr. Efiong Akwa is not from oil producing community in the Niger-Delta as provided in the NDDC Act is puerile and farther from the truth. The true position is that Barr. Efiong Akwa is from Oron, a major oil producing community in Akwa Ibom State in the Niger-Delta region.

For the avoidance of doubt, the Oron Community of Akwa Ibom State is comprised of Five Local Government Areas – namely; Oron, Mbo, UdungUko, Urue Offong Oruko and Okobo. The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) concession Map indicate that there are about Nine(9) Oil Mining Leases(OMLs) that are operational in these Local Government Areas or Communities. These are Oil Mining Lease (OML) 14 operated by New Cross Petroleum Ltd, OML 67 operated by Mobil Producing Nig. Ltd, OML 68 operated by Mobil Producing Nig. Ltd, OML 70 operated by Mobil Producing Nig. Ltd, OML 112 operated by AMNI International, OML 114 operated by Monipulo Petroleum Development Company, OML 115 operated by Oriental Energy, OML 117 operated by Oriental Energy and OML 123 operated by Addax Petroleum Development Nigeria Limited. Further to the above, OML 123 has several oil fields namely; Akam, Oron North, Oron East, Bogi Ukpam, Inagha, Adanga, Adanga South, Adanga SW, Adanga North, Ebughu South, Ebughu East, Ebughu NE, Mimbo and Kita Marine. These fields are offshore and within 200 metres Isobath and all form part of the production attributed to Akwa Ibom State every month to generate indices for the disbursement of 13% derivation revenue.(Source: RMAFC/DPR)

From the aforementioned data, it is clear that Oro Community is an oil producing community per se. In terms of crude oil output, factual recordsshow that, Akwa Ibom accounts for over 40% of the total crude oil output in the Niger-Delta with over 80 percent of that from Oron, where Efiong Akwa hailsfrom.

Invariably, Oron Community has over 30% of the total crude oil output in Nigeria. More than any other group in the Niger-Delta, Oron suffers untold marginalization by successive governments’ in Akwa Ibom State and the Nigerian State. In the face of this monumental injustice continuously meted out to Oron, the Oron Community has always abhorred violence and embraced intellectual and peacefulstruggle, in its quest for justice, equity and fair play. The appointment of EfiongAkwa, an illustrious Son of Oron as the Sole Administrator of the NDDC should be applauded by every right-thinking Niger-Deltan as the right step to right themonumental injustices perpetrated against the people of Oron.

The fact that Oron community has not destroyed oil pipelines, kidnappedexpatriates, unleash violence and engaged in criminalities does not make one ounce less the major oil producing community in Nigeria and should not be taken for weakness. We equally have the capacity for violence and once that is allowed to start, it may cause a serious security challenge to the Nigerian State because of its strategic location in the Gulf of Guinea and its accessibility to the Republic of Cameroon, Gabon,Equatorial Guinea. We are aware of this but choose peaceful resolution to all conflicts. Oron people deserves empathy from our fellow Niger-Deltans and Nigerians as a whole.

The Minister of Niger-Delta Senator Godswill Akpabio should be commended for his ongoing efforts to sanitize and reposition the NDDC in order to deliver on the mandate that informed its establishment. We will therefore resist any attempt tolampoon and attack this illustrious son of the Niger-Delta and statesman of immense repute by any individual or groups, who are bent on permanently keeping the Niger Delta down the ladder of development. Those playing this dirty cards of campaign of calumny are the agents of the beneficiaries of rottenness in NDDC who will not want the ongoing forensic audit to succeed.

Barr. Efiong Akwa is a man with glittering records of achievements in both the public and private sector. At a time like this, when the NDDC is synonymous with large scale sleaze, corruption, abandoned projects, maladministration andinstitutional failures, every well-meaning indigene of the Niger-Delta should support a leader with capacity and capability to effectively confront the development challenges bedeviling the region.

We should all rally round Barr. Efiong Akwa to ensure that he deliver on his mandate to supervise the ongoing audit.

Long live Federal Republic of Nigeria

Long live, Niger Delta

Long live Oron

BARR. REMIGIUS EDEBIANGA                                    BARR. ASUKWO UNUYU

PRESIDENT ABUJA BRANCH                                             GENERAL SECRETARY

                                                                                            ABUJA BRANCH

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