Noah Ebije, Kaduna
Barely 24 hours after Senate President, Dr. Ahmad Lawan at a plenary read a letter from President Muhammadu Buhari requesting the upper chamber to screen and confirm the 16-member NDDC Board, Minister of Niger Delta, Senator Godswill Akpabio, has also set-up an Interim Management Committee to take-over from Mrs. Akwagaga’s interim Management of NDDC, which was constituted in August.
After reading the letter from President Buhari, Lawan referred the names of the 16-member NDDC Board to the Committee on Niger Delta Affairs to carry out screening and report back to plenary in one week.
Already, the Senate Committee on Niger Delta led by Peter Nwaoboshi has invited the nominated NDDC Board members to appear for screening today.
Meanwhile, stakeholders and experts have risen in unison to express shock at the development.
Port Harcourt-based lawyer, Dr. Stanley Wali said Act No. 6 of 2000 which establishes the NDDC clearly states that the Commission will be governed by a properly constituted Board nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate.
He said it was an anomaly that nearly after one year of dissolving the last Board, and appointment of an interim management led by Prof. Brambaifa, followed by a current acting Managing Director, Mrs. Enyia Akwagaga, another interim management is being setup when a new Board has already been announced by the president and submitted to the Senate for confirmation.
President of Ijaw Diaspora Coalition, Elder Johnson Ebibai recalled that on assumption of duty, Mrs. Akwagaga stated that her mandate was to oversee the smooth running of the NDDC until substantive board was cleared to assume office, and therefore, wondered what has changed to warrant another interim management.
He, therefore, called on the Senate to quickly confirm the new Board so that the president could inaugurate it to save the nation from this “travesty that portrays the country in very bad light and detrimental to development of the Niger Delta region.”
However, the South South Youths Assembly (SSYA) lauded Akpabio on the interim Board, said a forensic audit of the commission was needed to restore the mandate of the Commission.
The Assembly, in a statement, noted that the operation of the NDDC needed a complete overhaul and the setting up of the interim board by the minister was necessary to prepare ground for the incoming board.