The crisis rocking Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) became messier yesterday as Senate resolved to await the inauguration of the board members before working on the commission’s 2019 and 2020 budgets proposal as submitted by President Muhammadu Buhari.
While the lawmakers were confirming the appointment of 15 nominees to the board of NDDC three weeks ago, Senate President, Mr Ahmad Lawan, had stated that the current Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the commission had become vitiated.
“With the completion of this process (confirmation), I am sure that any other structure that exists now (in NDDC) is vitiated. I don’t think we have anything to worry about because this is one thing that is clearly established by law,” Lawan had said while commenting on the confirmation of the nominees.
The IMC set up by the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Mr Godswill Akpabio, currently manages the commission. The minister had said the committee would run the NDDC for six months and oversee the forensic audit of the agency.
But shortly after Lawan read Buhari’s letter forwarding the NDDC’s budget to Senate yesterday, Minority Leader, Mr Enyinanya Abaribe, raised concerns over the appropriate officials of the commission that should defend the budget.
“With due regard to the fact that this Senate has confirmed members of the board of NDDC and they are yet to assume office, there is fear that we may run into a problem of delay of this budget since nobody will come to defend it, and because this August body, after confirming the board of the commission, will not condone any illegal contraption coming in front of us to say that they are representing NDDC.
“It may be pre-emptive but our people say that if we do quick, we prevent disaster from coming. So, to prevent a disaster from delaying the NDDC that is helping Nigeria and our revenue and the development of the region, let us allow the needful to be done,” Abaribe said.
His point of order was sustained by Lawan, who stated: “As far as we are concerned, this Senate knows that we have confirmed the board membership of NDDC and we have communicated that to the president. 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 would heed that quickly so that we can have the right people to come and defend the appropriation request of the president.”