The Niger Delta Coalition of Justice and Equity (NDCJE), a pro-democracy, pressure group and civil society organization, made up of professionals from different endeavours basically set up for the emancipation of the Niger Delta/South-South people and to accelerate the fight for equity and justice for the region in particular; especially as it concerns government appointments into positions, remunerations and justice for the Niger Delta people as a region that has singularly been responsible for the rich oil and gas deposit, on which Nigeria as a nation, sits on today and parades itself as the giant of Africa.
The NDCJE has, for long, kept aloof, because of the precarious security situation of the country and the divisive tendencies thrown overboard by people in authority, who, look the other way, for their selfish interest, not minding where their actions take the nation to, even if it is in a retrogressive motion.
As partners that believe in the course of Nigeria as a dear nation; as well as believe in putting square pegs in square holes, and uplifting merit than mediocrity in all ramifications, we are hereby compelled to critically and objectively analyze the current letter from the President to the National Assembly, presenting someone for confirmation as Acting Director-General; someone that has not even acted for a day, not to talk about acting in any capacity whatsoever, but has consistently let Nigerians know that he will surely (come rain or shine) ascend the mantle of leadership of NASRDA. Our investigation has revealed that his confidence is based on the presumption that having been connected to the present Chief of Staff to the President as a cousin, he will have a smooth sail, based on these antecedents:
• That Dr Halilu Shaba Ahmad has never ever acted in any capacity before now, not to talk about that of Director-General/Chief Executive of the National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA); and that he is even number eight in the hierarchy of the nominal roll of the agency since Mr Jonathan Angulu left as the Acting Director-General of the agency. We wish to recall that Mr Angulu handed over the mantle of leadership to the most senior management staff in person of Dr Francis Chizea Dubem, a renowned research fellow with 21 years of service at NASRDA, who has been in charge of the organization till date, and the first Vice Chairman of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, a position bestowed on him based on the recommendation of the African Group Task Force on Space Science and Technology, based in Vienna, Austria.
• That precisely, nine months ago, the South-South Renaissance Group (SSRG) called on the Chief of Staff of the President, Ambassador Ibrahim Gambari and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, to prevail on Mr Halilu Shaba to stop parading himself as the Acting Director-General of the agency; the call which was captured under the headline, “Curtail Dr Halilu Shaba’s Inconsistencies, Bragging Rights at Nigerian Space Agency.” This was informed by the fact that Halilu was unduly parading himself (which action made him to be safely referred to as an imposter) as Acting Director-General, which he is not in any capacity and has never acted as such till date, until his recommendation few hours ago to the National Assembly by the President/Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic.
• That Mr Halilu brags in the corridors of power that he and his cabal/cohorts own the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari; that they decide whatever happens to any position; as well as decide who occupies which position as far as Muhammadu Buhari remains the president. Going by this impunity, our organization vehemently resists this injustice meted out to Dr Chizea Dubem, and any other qualified and legitimate candidate for that matter. This is based on the fact that all qualified Nigerians have alienable right to aspire to any position of authority as long as they remain Nigerians. In view of the above, therefore, we are asking these vital questions: What has the Niger Delta done to the Nigerian nation to deserve this barbaric treatment? Where did the Niger Delta go wrong, in such a way that it will warrant the dropping of the most senior and adequately qualified Acting Director General from the region, who has all the prerequisite qualifications; and the sending of the name of the number eight position in hierarchy on the nominal roll? How long will it take for Dr Francis Chizea Dubem to be confirmed as the Director-General of the agency?
• It will also be recalled that there was a candid instruction from the President that the National Council in charge of the board of NARSDA must meet to ratify Dr Chizea’s ascension, but that meeting did not hold. Today, the name of one who does not deserve to be recommended, Mr Halilu, has been smuggled through the window/back door and sent to the National Assembly for confirmation. If this is confirmed, it will affirm his bragging rights for the past two years that he would be made Director-General of the agency.
• Luckily, at the agency, since inception, this is the turn of the Niger-Delta/South South to assume the position of authority as the Director-General, having acted for over one year, within which period the agency has grown in leaps and bound, conforming to international best practice and good governance, entrenched in all ramifications. The Acting Director-General still remains Dr Francis Chizea Dubem, who has been acting since Mr Jonathan Angulu left the agency. We pray that due diligence be carried out to ascertain the veracity of this statement to know the fact of the matter. But one would ponder, where has Mr Halilu been all this while, that Dr Chizea Dubem has been sacrificing tooth and nail to keep the agency afloat, especially during this Covid-19 Pandemic? Who is misleading the President to act contrary on the issue he had already directed the National Council to meet to rectify Dr Francis Chizea Dubem? The Acting Director-General is Dr Francis Chizea Dubem and not Halidu. It is a concoction from the pit of hell, which, we suggest, must be verified by the security agencies and right thinking Nigerians. Would somebody tell us what is happening in this country? Again, at what stage, did Halilu rise to become the authentic Acting Director-General, when, indeed, there is a substantive Acting Director-General in person of Dr Francis Chizea Dubem?
• Our coalition has it on good authority that the only reason why Halilu is to be named as Acting Director-General, according to him, is because he is a relation to the Chief of Staff to the President. Due to the foregoing, he continuously brags that whether he merits it or not, he would be confirmed the Director-General of the agency. If this is confirmed, it will be viewed as man’s inhumanity to man; and very unpatriotic action to the collective growth of the Nigerian nation; as against natural justice, equity and good conscience. Consequently, justice must be seen to have been served on this vexed issue, if the present Acting Director-General, Dr Chizea Dubem is confirmed and left to continue, instead of bringing Mr Halilu Shaba from the back door to assume leadership, to reap where he did not sow. It is, indeed, an act of nepotism, inhumanity, and, indeed, a slap on our collective conscience and psyche as a people of the region in particular and Nigeria in general, for accepting mediocrity in place of merit.
• We have watched, with keen interest, the retirement of the Commandant-General of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, Muhammadu Gana Abdullahi, where a South-Easterner, Hilary Madu, was made an acting Commandant-General and immediately, a petition came that he was out for ethnic cleansing; and within three weeks, he was dropped and replaced with a North-easterner, while the Inspector-General of Police’s tenure ended but is still there serving, calling shots, because he is from a particular region and ethnic tribe. What a country, indeed!
• It is our candid advice that the President, should, as a matter of national interest, revert to status quo, and set aside the letter sent to the National Assembly and do the right thing, by confirming Dr Chizea, who is far more capable than Mr Halidu.
• The NDCJE appropriately urges Niger Deltans, South-South indigenes, and, indeed, Nigerians to rise up and condemn this injustice in all its form meted out to a fellow Nigerian. However, if there is any doubt about our status as Nigerians, we should be made to understand and President Buhari should do the rightful and make this very important decision by appointing Dr Chizea as the substantive DG of NARSDA. By the way, Dr Chizea is a foundation staff and it is even on record that the office property that NARSDA first used was his father’s personal property. And, apart from being a scientist and researcher of international repute, he is a patriot and when NARSDA was not recognized, he was able to convince his father to let his property to NARSDA for use. If we must ask: is this the price he has to pay for been patriotic? Where is the reward for excellence? Where is the reward for hard work?
• The entire Niger Delta/South-South geopolitical regions, and Nigerians at large, are eager to know the reasons behind this act. It is also our candid advice that constructive investigations should be carried out to ascertain who is the authentic Acting-Director General of NARSDA, before they bring in any one from the backdoor to a position he does not even merit in the first instance; for which he did not work for. Why must Nigeria take itself backwards by clamouring for mediocrity in place of meritocracy?
Alaowe Preye Dokubo Comrade Olisa Ode Osundi
National Coordinator National Secretary