NDDC Budget: Senate Assures On Inauguration Of Board

NDDC Budget: Senate Assures On Inauguration Of Board

President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has assured Nigerians that the newly confirmed members of the board of the Niger Delta Development Commission will defend the agency’s 2019 and 2020 budgets.

President Muhammadu Buhari had sent the NDDC’s appropriation bills to the National Assembly on Monday.

Lawan read the covering letter which conveyed the fiscal document to the federal parliament at plenary on Tuesday.

However, the Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe, drew the attention of the Senate to the fact that members of the board of the NDDC, who were confirmed since November 5, had not started working.

He said, “With due regards 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 delay of these budgets since nobody will come to defend them because this August body after confirming the board of the NDDC will not condone any illegal contraption coming in front of us to say that they are representing the NDDC.

Responding, the Senate President assured his colleagues and Nigerians that the new board would soon take over the control of the agency.

Lawan said, “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 act on it quickly  so that we can have the right people to come and defend the appropriation request of the President.”

Meanwhile, National President of Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), Mr. Eric Omare has urged the National Assembly to disregard any budget approval request from Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) submitted by the Interim Management Committee (IMC), recently inaugurated by the Minister of Niger Delta, Chief Godswill Akpabio.

Omare, in a statement, said under Section 18 of the NDDC Act 2000, only the substantive Board of the NDDC could submit a budget to the National Assembly for consideration.

Section 18 of the NDDC Establishment Act, Number 6 of 2000, as amended, states that, “the Board shall not later than 30th September in each year, submit to the National Assembly, through the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces an estimate of the expenditure and income of the Commission during the next succeeding year for approval.”

To this end, Omare said the National Assembly has a duty to defend the law.

He maintained that the problem with NDDC since its inception was with non- adherence to the law establishing the Commission.

According to him, “Instead of strictly complying with the law establishing NDDC, emphasis is placed on political patronage instead of using the NDDC as a platform to develop the Niger Delta region.”

The IYC president expressed regret that despite the Senate confirmation of a substantive Board for NDDC, the government has not deemed it fit to inaugurate the Board.

“Given the myriad of problems in the region, we had looked forward to the inauguration of the Board, knowing that it will bring a level of sanity and stability to the Commission but unfortunately and to our surprise, the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Chief Godswill Akpabio set up an illegal Interim Management Committee that is not contemplated by the NDDC Act because under the Act there is no room for an interim management committee in the first place.”

He noted further that, “there is absolutely no reason in the present circumstance for an interim management committee because President Buhari has already exercised his powers under Section 2 of the NDDC Act to nominate members of the substantive board to the national assembly and the Senate has confirmed members of the substantive board.”

Omare, stated that what ought to happen was for the substantive board to take over the leadership of the commission immediately but regretted that two weeks after the clearance, “we still have a contraption called an interim management committee presiding over the NDDC in flagrant violation of the law establishing the NDDC.”

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