It was learnt that the amendment of the Act setting up the commission has further fuelled the contest for the two offices, thereby delaying the full take-off of the commission, which has renovated its office complex in Minna, Niger State. The renovation of the HYPPADEC headquarters was completed over three months ago, but the commission is yet to begin operations because of the absence of the management and governing board.
Sources in some of the benefitting states revealed that the situation has been complicated by the later inclusion of Plateau and Benue states among the original four states of Kebbi, Kogi, Kwara and Niger in the enabling law.
In the original Act, it was stipulated that helmsmen of the board shall emerge in alphabetical order, an arrangement that empowered Kebbi State to produce the first chairman of the governing board while the managing director could come from any of the other member states.
But with the recent inclusion of Benue State among the benefiting states, some states are canvassing a review of the old deal to be in line with the provisions of the law, arguing that following the previous arrangement, which allows Kebbi to produce the chairman, might run foul of the law.
On the appointment of the chairman of the commission, the first Act stipulates in section 1:3. (1) that the Commission shall have a Governing Council (in this Act referred to as ‘the Council’), which consists of :- (a) A chairman who shall be appointed on part-time basis and shall preside over Council meeting; one person each who shall be from the affected communities to represent Niger, Kwara, Kogi, Kebbi, Plateau and any other state where hydroelectric power is generated; two persons to represent other non-Hydroelectric Power Producing Areas or States; one person each to represent Federal Ministries of Power, Environment, Water Resources, Finance and the Managing Director of the Commission.
It further provides that the chairman and other members of the Council shall be appointed by the president, subject to confirmation by the Senate, except the persons mentioned in section 2 (1) (d) whose appointments shall not be subject to confirmation by the Senate, adding that “the office of the chairman shall rotate among the member States of the Commission in the following alphabetical order: Kebbi, Kogi, Kwara, Niger, Plateau and any other state where hydroelectric power is generated.
On the appointment of the managing director, the Act in Part 4:2(a) stipulates that he shall “be an indigene from among the member states of the Commission, whose appointment and tenure shall rotate among member States in alphabetical order provided that the Chairman and Managing Director shall not be indigenes of the same state”.
Intrigues started with the inclusion of Benue State, which makes it first on the list to produce the chairman if the alphabetical order clause is followed.
According to sources, Benue is not putting up any fight for the office, but agitators for adherence to the rule of law want the state to produce the HYPPADEC chairman to avoid any litigation.
Other states as recognised by the amended Act are also lobbying for the managing director’s office.
It was learnt that whereas names of members of the governing board representing the six states have been submitted by their respective states to the presidency through the Federal Ministry of Power, there is intense lobbying among the states on which should first clinch the position of managing director.
Sources disclosed that the development made the federal government slow down the process of appointment into the commission so that the current controversy would be resolved.
Speaking on the development, the senior special assistant on HYPPADEC in Niger State, Mallam Aliyu Kwoste, stated that a delegation from the Federal Ministry of Power led by the permanent secretary, Ambassador Godknows Agali, has visited the headquarters and was satisfied with the work done on the complex.
He stated that everything was ready for the take-off of the commission, but for the lack of a governing board and management team in place.
According to him, by the arrangement, Kebbi State would still produce the chairman of the board notwithstanding the amendment of the Act that included Plateau and Benue states.
He argued that the initial Act was not implemented before the inclusion of Benue and Plateau states and as such Kebbi would still produce the chairman of the governing board in line with the initial Act.