Fred Itua and Fred Ezeh, Abuja
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, yesterday, said the upper legislative chamber would not recognise the interim management team of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
The controversial management team was constituted by the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio.
The team replaced an acting management board of the Commission.
Speaking, yesterday, while referring the budget of NDDC to the Senate Committee on Niger Delta Affairs, Lawan instructed the panel to only deal with the board screened and confirmed by the Red Chamber.
He told the Committee to turn in the report of the budget in two weeks, to enable the Senate pass it into law.
“This budget is hereby referred to the Senate Committee on Niger Delta Affairs. You’re to report back in two weeks. Let me state that only the Committee should only deal with board members confirmed by the Senate,” he said.
This is the first time Lawan is making such a daring move since he was elected as president of the Senate in June.
The move may also signal an end to the cordial relationship between the executive and the senate.
Three weeks ago, the Senate confirmed 15 out of the 16 nominees forwarded by President Buhari for confirmation as members of the board of NDDC.
Lawan had after the confirmation, said the inauguration of an interim committee by the Akpabio was alien to law setting up the Commission. He said with the confirmation of the board, the interim committee ceased to exist and warned that those who ought to protect the sanctity of the law should not deliberately flout them.
While reading a letter from President Buhari, presenting the 2020 budget of NDDC, on Tuesday, Lawan said the right thing to do was for the President to inaugurate the new board. He said if the President inaugurates the board, the right people would appear before the Senate and defend the 2020 budget of the Commission.
Lawan had said: “As far as we are concerned, this Senate knows that we have confirmed the request of Mr. President for the board membership of the NDDC and we have communicated that and 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 will attend to that quickly so that we have the right people to come and defend the appropriation request of Mr. President.”
Minority Leader of the Senate, Enyinnaya Abaribe, had while speaking on the development on Tuesday, said the Senate should not allow an illegal interim committee of the NDCC to defend the 2020 budget of the Commission. “We just heard from you (Senate President) the communication from Mr. President which relates to the presentation of the NDDC’s Budget for approval. Of course, what it will mean is that the budget will go to the relevant Committee of Appropriation and the NDDC Committee and some persons will come to defend the budget.
“Having regard to the fact that this Senate has confirmed members of the board of the NDDC and they are yet to resume office, Mr. President, I fear that we may run into a problem of delayed budget again since nobody will come to defend this budget.
“Because this august body having confirmed the board of NDDC, will not countenance any illegal contraption coming in front of us to say they are representing the NDDC. I know that this may be preemptive, but my people say that if we act quick we will prevent disaster from coming.”