By Sunday Olugbenga Abire

It is no longer news that Governor Lucky Orimisan Aiyedatiwa commissioned a team of experts to inspect the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, electrification project in Igbokoda. If there is anyone who didn’t know before, Hon Thompson Otito Atikase has made the inspection an issue in Ondo State.

Now that we are all aware, we can talk about the missing truth in Otito’s criticism.

Firstly, Hon Atikase represents Ondo State in the NDDC board. His office is designed to help raise hope for Ondo State that he solely represents in the NDDC. Meanwhile, Governor Aiyedatiwa is the leader and governor of Ondo State which Òtítọ́ represents in the NDDC. It means, Hon Otito and Governor Aiyedatiwa should never work at cross-purpose. He is even bound by the nature of his office to take brief from the governor, who’s the leader of the state he represents. It is interesting to note that Governor Aiyedatiwa and Hon Otito are kinsmen who should naturally collaborate to bring development to the people.

Former President Muhammadu Buhari, on the 10th of March, 2020, inaugurated an Advisory Committee for the NDDC at the Council Chambers of the Presidential Villa, Abuja. The responsibilities of the Advisory Committee, comprising the 9 governors of the Niger Delta region and the Ministers of Niger Delta Affairs and Environment are clear.

The Advisory Committee was constituted in accordance with the provisions of Part III, Section 11 (1a) of the NDDC Establishment Act (as amended). Lawfully, Section 11 (2) of the Act stipulates the responsibilities of the Committee, which are to ADVISE the NDDC Board and to MONITOR the ACTIVITIES of the Commission with a view to achieving set objectives as well as to make RULES regulating its own proceedings.

If section 11 (2) of the NDDC Act is unambiguous, we should ask Atikase where Governor Aiyedatiwa has erred in the mere inspection of a project he hasn’t claimed to have facilitated. We should ask whether Hon Atikase even knows why the NDDC was created. For the records, the NDDC was created to complement the activities of the states in the Niger Delta region and not to antagonize.

Interestingly, the Land Use Act vested all lands in the state and even if Governor Aiyedatiwa was not part of the Advisory Committee of the NDDC, the Commission is by power vested in the governor by the Land Use Act as the custodian of any investment on land within the state. Can NDDC execute any project in any state if the state refuses to grant it right of way? Is this the first time the state will be inspecting the project? Was Otito Atikase not part of the delegation that once inspected the project on the 11th of April 2023? That he joined the team led by Hon. Razaq Obe as a politician who has been around government for years tells so much about his calculated hypocrisy today.

Hon Atikase should rather see synergy than baseless competition in what the governor has rightly done.

Governor Aiyedatiwa visited the sites of all the projects initiated by his late boss and he never claimed ownership of them. He rather told the people that he would do everything to complete them in record time. That’s the politics of truth that’s missing in Atikase.

He erroneously thought inspection meant ownership, because of the primitive ‘pull him down’ politics that has clogged the state for years.

Funnily, the people of Ondo State replaced ‘Otito’ in his name with Thompson while reacting to his serpentine criticism. Like the thunderous reactions that greeted the ignoble letter of the five Abuja legislators, this has shown again that the people of Ondo State will stand by their governor any day. They are ready to protect him from external and internal aggressors. The people will shut down bullies for their governor. The continued vilification will be resisted by the people of Ondo State.

Sovereignty truly belongs to the people. The power to enthrone a king belongs to God and He gives to whoever He wills. If Ondo people are saying it is Lucky’s time, we have got to key into the dream of making the state better than we met it.

Hon Otito, who was recently nominated to represent Ondo state on the board of NDDC joined the state government delegation, led by Hon Obe Razaq on the 11th of April 2023 to inspect this same project in the capacity of a politician who has been around government. He didn’t see any need to condemn the governor of Ondo State then? He should do well to limit his representation to protecting the collective interest of Ondo State.

Playing dirty politics with the mandate undermines the interest of the oil producing region of the state, the Ilaje nation, the Southern senatorial district and Ondo State in general. His action is largely divisive, misleading, regrettable and unpatriotic.

•Abire is Special Assistant on New Media to the governor of Ondo State.


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