Senate, on Thursday, declared that it has no business with the Interim Management Committee, IMC of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC headed by Dr. Joy Yimebe Nunieh.
Specifically, the upper legislative chamber insisted that the 15-member governing board whose nominations it received few weeks back from President Muhammadu Buhari, screened and approved by it, should be the recognised to relate with.
Senate’s declaration to this effect, was sequel to the forwarding of the 2019/2020 budget of NDDC received from President Buhari on Tuesday to its standing Committee on NDDC for consideration.
President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan after approval by senators through voice votes, for the budget to be forwarded to the Committee on NDDC, warned that only the approved board should be recognised for that purpose.
“The Senate Committee on NDDC should ensure that only the 15-member governing board forwarded to the Senate by Mr. President, screened and approved by us should be related with as far the budget of the agency is concerned and other official matters,” he said.
He further directed the Senator Peter Nwaoboshi (PDP Delta North) led Committee to expeditiously engaged the recognised board on the budget proposals and report back in two weeks.
Those in the NDDC Governing board recognised by the Senate are Dr. Pius Odubu from Edo State as chairman, Bernard Okumagba from Delta as Managing Director, Engr Otobong Ndem from Akwa Ibom State as Executive Director, Projects and Maxwell Oko from Bayeosa as Executive Director, Finance and Admin.
Others are Prophet Jones Erue from Delta as member, Victor Ekhator from Edo as member, Nwogu Nwogu from Abia State as member, Theodore Allison from Bayelsa as member, Victor Antai from Akwa Ibom as member and Maurice Effiwatt from Cross River as member.
Others are Olugbenga Edema from Ondo State, Uchegbu Kyrian from Imo State, Aisha Murtala Muhammed from Kano State, Shuaibu Ardo Zubairu from Adamawa State and Ambassador Abdullahi Bage from Nasarawa State.
President Muhamnadu Buhari had on Tuesday forwarded to the Senate via a letter dated November 21, 2019, the 2019/2020 NDDC budget.
The letter reads: “Pursuant to Section 18(1) of the Nigerian Delta Development Commission Establishment Act, I forward herewith 2019/2020 budget estimates of the Niger Delta Development Commission for the kind consideration and passage by the Senate.
“While hoping that the Senate will consider this request in the usual expeditious manner, please accept, Mr. President, the assurances of my highest consideration.”
But immediately after the letter was read, the Senate Minority Leader, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe (PDP Abia South), drew the attention of his colleagues to the fact that members of the NDDC board duly confirmed by the Senate were yet to resume official duty.
Abaribe who rose through order 43 of the Senate Standing Rules to raise the issue , said the failure of the executive to swear-in members of the board duly confirmed by the Senate sequel to a request from President Buhari, may threaten early consideration and quick passage of the 2019/2020 budget of the NDDC.
He added that the Interim Committee of the NDDC, led by Dr Joy Nunieh, is an “illegal contraption” that lacks the backing of law to defend the commission’s budget.
He said: “Having regard to the fact that this Senate has confirmed members of the board of the NDDC and they are yet to resume office.
“I fear that we may run into a problem of delayed budget again since nobody will come to defend this budget.
“This Senate, having confirmed the board of the NDDC will not countenance any illegal contraption coming to represent NDDC.
“To prevent a late budget for NDDC that is helping Nigeria on revenue and development of the region, it will be better for us to prevent this issue from coming.”
But Lawan, who sustained Abaribe’s point of order in his ruling said, “We are receiving the budget of the NDDC for the year 2020 at the right time.
“This is the first time ever, and this is a good sign that we are operating on the same frequency with the executive arm of government; that we are in a hurry to deal with matters of the budget because it is an issue that will bring about development in the country.”
“As far as we are concerned, this Senate knows that we have confirmed the request of Mr. President on the board membership of the NDDC, and we have communicated that.
“The next logical thing to do by law is for the appointments of the members of the board to take immediate effect.
“I believe that the executive arm of government will attend to that quickly so that we have the right people to defend the appropriation request of Mr. President,” he stressed.
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