The Senate and House of Representatives have expressed their dissatisfaction with the continued intransigence of the Niger Delta Affairs Minister Godswill Akpabio and the interim management committee he appointed for the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) in disregard of the Board duly screened and approved by the Senate.
While the Senate President Dr Ahmed Lawan has made the position of the senators known at the screening and approval of the members of the board on where he directed that the new board resume ‘immediately’.
Already, the Federal House of Representatives has asked the minister to withdraw the interim management committee without delay or face zero-budgetary allocation.
At the plenary on Wednesday November 13, 2019, the House of Representatives asked the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs to immediately inaugurate the board or face opposition. It resolved to discontinue the consideration of the 2020 budget process of the Niger Delta Ministry, until the minister complies with the directive, also resolved to urge the Senate to suspend work on the 2020 budget of Niger Delta Affairs ministry until Akpabio cancels the appointment of the NDDC interim management committee.
The House’s decision followed the adoption of a motion sponsored by Ossai Nicholas Ossai, under matters of urgent public importance, on ” urgent need to stop the illegality in the NDDC,” at Wednesday’s plenary.
Ossai, who led the debate, told members of the House that on October 29, President Buhari through the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), announced the appointment of 15 new members of the NDDC board, and subsequently sent their names to the Senate for confirmation, days after the President ordered the forensic audit of the Commission since its founding in 2001.
The lawmaker noted that on the same day, October 29, as the President’s list of board nominees were read in the Senate, Akpabio announced the interim committee to run for six months.
Since the minister’s action, Niger Delta stakeholders have expressed their dissatisfaction with the action and have gone as far as calling for the sack of the minister. The media has been vociferous in opposition to the minister’s action, calling for the inauguration of the new board, which is led by Chairman Pius Odubu and Managing Director Bernard Okumagba. The Nation newspaper called the minister’s action an illegality. In the words of the paper, “an illegality is brewing in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), and at the centre of it is the minister who has been charged to superintend it. After setting up an interim management to oversee the commission without the backing of any law, the Niger Delta minister, Godswill Akpabio, has not relented in spite of the senate confirmation of the new board.” It noted that, “It is obvious that the minister is hijacking the law. This is worsened by the high-handed way he has started as the minister of the region. He has not answered critical questions concerning actions he has undertaken since he started his stewardship. First, the scandal of the contract award of N1.9 billion for water hyacinth in the region remains unanswered.”