Senate President, Dr Ahmad Lawan, has insisted that the Senate will only consider the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) budget if it is defended by the board it screened and confirmed early November.
Dr Lawan who was speaking at plenary on Thursday morning, said he hopes the executive would do the needful and inaugurate the board to have them defend the commission’s budget.
The Senate President’s comments were made after the Leader, Senator Yahaya Abdullahi, had read the letter from the executive branch requesting the Senate to consider the 2019 and 2020 Budget Estimates of the NDDC.
While directing the request to the Committee on Niger Delta Affairs to attend to, Senator Lawan said, “I want to reiterate for emphasis that you deal with the Governing Board that this Senate approved.” He directed the Peter Nwaoboshi – led Committee on NDDC to report back in two weeks.
The Senate President’s emphasis, two days after the red chamber restated its decision that the board be inaugurated, is clear indication that the upper house will not permit the interim management committee appointed by the Niger Delta minister Godswill Akpabio continue to direct the affairs of the commission when the duly confirmed board is on ground.
The President of the Senate had said on Tuesday after he read President Buhari’s communication, dated November 21, on the NDDC budget that only the confirmed board members will be allowed to defend the budget, adding that, “I believe that the executive arm of government will attend to that quickly so that we have the right people to come and defend the Appropriation request of Mr. President.”
While confirming 15 of the NDDC board members on November 5, the Senate had frowned at the appointment of a 3-member interim management committee by the minister, declaring it as illegal and asking the new board to takeover the management since all due process has been followed in appointing them. The board is headed by Dr. Pius Odubu as chairman and Olorogun Bernard Okumagba as managing director.
Other confirmed members of the board are: Nwogu Nwogu (Abia), Victor Antai (Akwa Ibom),Theodore Allison (Bayelsa), Maurice Effiwatt (Cross River), Jones Erue (Delta), Chief Victor Ekhator (Edo), Hon. Uchegbu Chidiebere Kyrian (Imo),Olugbenga Elema (Ondo), Aisha Murtala Muhammed (Kano, representing the Northwest), Ardo Zubairu (Adamawa, representing the Northeast) and Amb. Abdullahi Bage (Nasarawa, representing the North Central).
The nominee from Rivers State, Dr. Joy Yimebe Nunieh was not confirmed by the Senate as she did not appear for screening. Incidentally, the minister had appointed her acting managing director for the interim management committee.