The Senate on Tuesday confirmed the appointment of the Nominees for the Chairmanship and Members of the board of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) in accordance to section 2 (2) *a) of the NDDC Act,2000.
Recall that President Buhari had earlier forwarded the Nominees to the Senate for confirmation.
The Nominees include; Dr. Plus Odudu (Edo) Chairman , Bernard O. Okamagba (Delta) Managing Director, Engr. Otobong Ndem (Akwa Ibom), Executive Director Projects, Maxwell Oko (Bayelsa) Executive Director Finance and Administration, Prophet Jones Erue ( Delta) , Delta Representative, Chief Victor Ekhator (Edo) Edo Representative, Dr. Joy Yimebe Nunieh Rivers Representative, Nwogu N Nwogu Abia Representative, Theodore A. Allison Bayelsa Representative, Victor Antai Akwa Ibom Representative, Maurice Effiwatt Cross River Representative, Olugbenga Edema Ondo Representative, Hon. Uchegbu Chidiebere Kyrian Imo Representative, Aisha Murtala Muhammed North West Representative, Shuaibu Ardo Zubairu Adamawa Representative and Amb. Abdullahi M. Bage Nasarrawa North Central Representative.
However, Rivers Nominee Representative Dr. Joy Yimebe was not confirmed due to her absence during the screening exercise conducted by the Senate Committee on NDDC led by Senator Peter Nwaboshi (Delta North). This was made known by an observation by Senator Peter when he notified the Senate Dr. Joy Yimebe was absent during the screening process and subsequently notified the Senate to declare her ineligible for confirmation.
Senate President Lawan inqured from Senator Nwaboshi if there was any official correspondence from Dr.Joy if there explaining her absence. Nwaboshi clarified that the Rivers Nominee was not present during the open meeting of the Senate Committee and that the committee further asked the Special Assistant to Mr. President, Senator Babajide Omoworare on her whereabouts and he replied that she was duly communicated and he was actually expecting her presence at the meeting. A decision was taken for her and Aisha Mohammed (Northwest Nominee) to appear before the committee yesterday (Monday) while Aisha was available Dr. Joy was absent yet again.
Following the Development, Minority leader, Senator Eyinnaya Abaribe in his remarks pointed out what can be termed a confusing scenario when he revealed that Dr. Joy was recently sworn as the interim committee chairman set up by Minster for Niger Delta , Godswill Apkabio.
The Minority Leader said ;”Some clarifications that I want to get from the Chairman of the Senate Committee on NDDC is that this member representing Rivers State appears to be the same person that was sworn in as the interim chairman committee of NDDC. I’m not sure if the position she was sworn in was the managing director, which bring in some little confusion . What I will say is that this confusion is not needed, what we have are the nominees from Mr. President ours is to do the needful for Mr. President and return to the Presidency in due course.We will then leave the matter as it is if the executive want to play basketball with the matter of the NDDC that will be their business, I don’t think that after asking the questions whether the nominee was invited and no communication has come from the nominee the proper thing to do is not to confirm the nominee.
Senator Ike Ekweremadu (Enugu West) on his part described the nomination of an interim committee without due process as “sabotage”.
He said ; “I recall that I signed this report because it has my support and I can see that my signature appeared on the document. I was at the screening and I can confirm that the nominees are eminently qualified. The last point to be made is that as all of us are aware that there is an interim management committee in place and we cannot encourage that kind of sabotage or undermine the powers of the National Assembly.
We made a law here stating a law here that there will be a board for the NDDC and anything outside that amounts to sabotage and these Nominees are supposed to be sent to the national assembly, it is one of the the few acts of the National Assembly that requires the approval of the Senate and House of Representatives. Outside this it is usually the Senate that approves nominations from the President when it is required so that tells you the importance of the approval of the National Assembly in NDDC boards so for any person to think he can begin set up and interim management board I believe that it is something that should not be accepted by the National Assembly, so the earlier we approve these nominees and send the President the better for all of us so that we can get to work and the issue of the interim management board would automatically become null and void and I would like to use this opportunity to appeal that henceforth we must be able to abide by the laws we made for ourselves as a country, do as not to sabotage any arm of government.
Senator Albert Akpan(Akwa Ibom North East) said the setting up of an interim committee had no value he said: ” I believe that there is no ambiguity in this process , I believe that once this screening process is completed by the Senate the President would do the needful , we are only supporting the president to realise his vision for the good people of Niger Delta. Mr. President speaking as a true son of Niger Delta I believe that a time has come when we must begin to hold NDDC accountable and the only way this can be achieved in line with the act of the NDDC is that now that we have an executive management committee we have board , then we belive as a people we can hold them accountable. However, this does not stop the President’s Objective of ordering an Audit because an audit has nothing to do with this new one set of managers . We believe that these need set of managers would be the right anchor to process and scale through the audit for the benefit of the Niger Deltans . I urge each and everyone of us to support this process so that they can go ahead and do the needful by inaugurating the substantive committee for NDDC.
Senate President Ahmed Lawan described the the interim committee null and void . He said ” Distinguished colleagues I think there is no ambiguity in this matter , Mr. President sent to the Senate his request for us to confirm his Nominees as soon as we conclude on the confirmation I am sure that any other structure that exists now stands ‘vitiated’ so don’t think we have anything to worry about because this is one thing that is very clearly established by the law and I want to urge our committee on Niger Delta Development Commission that after this management takes over the management of the NDDC we need to do proper oversight, this goes to other committees but Niger Delta is a special case. We recall that the President had cause to ask for total probe of what happened to the finances of the NDDC . This is think is not an indictment of us but I think we ate supposed to worry because we are supposed to continue oversight wherever public funds are put for development of our people. So NDDC you have a lot of work to do . You must make sure that whatever is budgeted is properly, prudently ,effectively and efficiently out to use and I believe that in the next few days we shall communicate to Mr. President the result of our confirmation.
The Senate President subsequently moved for the confirmation of the nominees which was unanimously confirmed.
Recall that in a statement issued on Tuesday, Godswill Akpabio, minister of Niger Delta affairs, inaugurated a three-man committee to oversee the management of the commission to create an “enabling environment” for the audit.
Godswill said Buhari approved the appointment of Gbene Joi as the new acting managing director; Cairo Ojougboh, as acting executive director, projects; and Ibanga Bassey, as acting executive director, finance and administration.