NDDC Budget: Senate Says Interim Management Is Illegal, Those Screened, Confirmed Can Defend Budget
..Wants Buhari to immediately Swear-in Odubu, Okumagba, other confirmed NDDC board members
The Senate had said that those it screened and subsequently confirmed as chairman and board members of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) are the only rightful people that will come and defend the budget of the Commission before its Committee on Niger Delta Affairs.
The Senate has however urged President Muhammadu Buhari to as a matter of urgency, swear in the Dr. Pius Odubu led NDDC Board.
Recall that the Senate in the first week of this confirmed President Muhammadu Buhari’s nominees for the board of NDDC.
The former Deputy Governor of Edo State, Dr. Pius Odubu, was confirmed by the Senate as Chairman of the NDDC Board, just as a nominee from Delta State, Chief Bernard Okumagba, was also confirmed as the NDDC Managing Director
The confirmation followed the presentation and consideration of the report of the Senate Committee on Niger Delta Affairs by its Chairman, Peter Nwaoboshi, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Delta North
Also confirmed were Otobong Ndem who is now the Executive Director, Projects and Maxwell Oko as Executive Director, Finance and Administration.
The Senate had also confirmed Prophet Jones Erue (Delta), Chief Victor Ekhator (Edo), Nwogu Nwogu (Abia), Theodore Allison (Bayelsa), Victor Antai (Akwa Ibom), Maurice Effiwatt (Cross River), Olugbenga Elema (Ondo), Hon. Uchegbu Chidiebere Kyrian (Imo), Aisha Murtala Muhammed (Kano), Ardo Zubairu (Adamawa) and Amb. Abdullahi Bage (Nasarawa).
Only a nominee from Rivers State, Dr. Joy Yimebe Nunieh was not confirmed by the Senate as she did not appear for screening.
Speaking shortly after reading the letter of President Muhammadu Buhari on the 2019 and 2020 budget estimates of NDDC, President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan said that the onus was now on the President to do the needful by inaugurating the Dr. Pius Odubu led NDDC following the confirmation by the Upper Chamber in consonnance with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The President of the Senate said, ” 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.”
Lawan had read the President’s request at plenary which is contained in a letter dated November 21, 2019 and addressed to him on the approval of the budget proposals for the NDDC.
The letter reads : “Pursuant to Section 18(1) of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) (Establishment) Act, I forward herewith, the 2019 and 2020 Budget Estimates of the Niger Delta Development Commission, for the kind consideration and passage by the Senate.
“While I trust that the Senate will consider this request in the usual expeditious manner, Please accept, Distinguished Senate President, the assurances of my highest consideration”.
After reading the letter, Senate Minority leader, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Abia South raised a point of Order 43 of the Senate Standing Orders as Amended who reminded the Senate that members of the board of the NDDC were confirmed and yet to resume, warning that the Commission may run into a problem of delayed budget again against the backdrop that nobody will come to defend the budget.
Abaribe who drew the attention of his colleagues to the fact that members of the NDDC board duly confirmed by the Senate were yet to resume official duty, said that the failure of the executive to swear-in members of the board duly confirmed by the Senate sequel to a request from President Buhari, may threaten early consideration and quick passage of the 2019/2020 budget of the NDDC.
According to him, the Interim Committee of the NDDC, led by Joy Nunieh, is an “illegal contraption” that lacks the backing of law to defend the commission’s budget.
Abaribe said: “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.
“So, to prevent a delayed budget for the NDDC, that is helping the region for development, it would be better for us to prevent this issue from coming and let the needful be done.”
Responding, President of the Senate, Lawan who sustained Abaribe’s point of Order, said, “Thank you Minority Leader but because you have come under order 43, this motion is not subject to debate but let me sustain your point of order.
“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.”
Recall that the expired NDDC 2018 budget of N346. 5 billion, N2.883bn was earmarked for capital expenditure, while N311.371bn was approved for development projects just as N19.521bn was for personnel cost and N12. 737bn was approved for overhead expenditure.
Similarly, in 2017, the NDDC got a total of N364 billion as its annual budget out of which the sum of N329.850 billion was approved for capital projects.
It was gathered last week that intrigues and game play within and outside the Niger Delta region as regards the affairs of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC contributed strongly to the delay in the presentation of the agency’s 2019 Budget Proposal to the National Assembly.
According to a source, the delay in the presentation by President Muhammadu Buhari may not be unconnected with the power play between forces behind the current Interim Management Committee of the NDDC and those supporting the inauguration of persons already appointed and confirmed as substantive members of the Commission.
The development however reared its head, a month to the end of the year.
Also recall that the National Assembly had with the expiration of the life span of the 2018 budget of the commission in July, raised several queries about the resort to extra budgetary expenditure by the NDDC management and board instead of making genuine efforts towards submitting the 2019 budget proposal for the commission.
It would be recalled that last week Tuesday, the House of Representatives invited the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the NDDC for explanation on the non-availability of the Commission’s 2019 budget.
It would be recalled that In spite of the order by the President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan some weeks ago that the interim committee should immediately give way to those appointed and confirmed as members of the NDDC management and board.
Also recall that even with the tall order from the Senate that after the screening and subsequent confirmation of the Nominees, the Interim board dies immediately, President Muhammadu Buhari is yet to act on the confirmation.
Lawan had said after the confirmation of Dr. Pius Odubu as Chairman of NDDC board and his team that “with the completion of this process now (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.”
The quagmire has however continue to generate serious concerns among stakeholders in the Oil Producing region.
Recall that the interim Committee was set up by the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio and he currently manages the commission.
Also recall that Akpabio had said that the three-man committee will oversee the management of the commission to create an “enabling environment” for the audit.
He said Buhari approved the appointment of Dr Gbene Joi Nunieh as the Acting Managing Director; Cairo Ojougboh, as acting executive director, projects; and Ibanga Bassey, as acting executive director, finance and administration.
Akpabio had asked the interim committee to discharge their duties ”without fear or favour”.
He said the outcome of the committee’s work will go a long way in alleviating the suffering of the people of the Niger Delta region.
According to the Minister, the Committee will run the NDDC for six months and oversee the forensic audit of the agency.
Following the expiration of the life span of the 2018 budget of the commission last July, the National Assembly had raised several queries about the resort to extra budgetary expenditure by the NDDC management and board instead of making genuine efforts towards submitting the 2019 budget proposal for the commission.
The Committees of the two chambers in charge of the NDDC had in a letter in August drawn the attention of the NDDC management to the provisions of section 80(4) of the Constitution which stipulated that “No money shall be withdrawn from the Consolidated Revenue Fund or any other public fund except in a manner prescribed by the National Assembly.”
Also recall that both committees had in the letter threatened that the National Assembly would not hesitate to invoke its full legislative powers to deal with any infraction of the Constitutional provisions.
The letter with reference number NASS/SEN/HR/2019/VOL.1/003 dated August 5, 2019 and titled ‘Extra Budgetary Expenditure’ was jointly signed by the Chairman of the Senate committee on NDDC, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi and Chairman, House Committee on NDDC, Hon. Olubunmi Ojo.
It read, “The committees on Niger Delta and NDDC of the Senate and House of Representatives respectively, wish to call your attention to the expiration of the 2018 NDDC budget which specifically elapsed on 31st July, 2019.
“Accordingly, you are directed to stop forthwith any spending except for personal Costs and Overhead.
“You may note the provision of section 80(4) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, (as amended) which states that : ‘money shall be withdrawn from the consolidated Revenue Fund or any other public fund except in a manner prescribed by the National Assembly.”
“Therefore, any expenditure in contravention of this express provision will amount to an illegality and the National Assembly will not hesitate to invoke its full legislative powers to deal with such infraction of the law.
“In furtherance of the above, you are requested to furnish the committee with the following documents :Summary and comprehensive details of 2018 budget performance showing project description, Allocation, Release, Utilization, Oustanding Balance and other useful information; Statement of all Commission’s accounts (local and domiciary) from January 2018 till date; Information on the procurement processes for all Recurrent Expenditure made by the Commission From January 2018 till date.”
Fake LASTMA Officer Jailed Two Years
The Lagos State Special Offences (Mobile) Court sitting at Bolade, Oshodi on Monday, 27 March, 2023 sentenced a fake Lagos State Traffic Management Authority Officer, Omotutu Bamidele, to a 2- year jail term for impersonating and extorting money from motorists across Lagos.
The convicted fake LASTMA officer was arraigned by LASTMA on a 2-count charge of impersonating as a public officer by claiming to be a staff of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (S.78 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State 2015)” and obtaining money by fraudulent trick (Sec. 323 of the Criminal Law, Lagos State) before the court.
The PUNCH reports that Bamidele was arrested a few days ago on Olu Holloway Road, around the Alfred Rewane area of Ikoyi by a LASTMA Monitoring/Surveillance team led by the Zonal Head, Ashafa Moyosore.
In a press statement released by the Director, Public Affairs and Enlightenment Department of LASTMA, Mr. Adebayo Taofiq said Magistrate Kehinde Ogundare sentenced Omotutu Bamidele to a 2-year jail term without any option of fine after he pleaded guilty to the 2- count charges levelled against him.
Magistrate Ogundare emphasized that the convict should serve the jail term without any option fine due to the gravity of the offences committed.
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The Court Prosecutor Barr. Olufemi Adekunle stated that both offences levied against the convict contravened Criminal Law of Lagos State (2015).
In his reaction to the judgement, the General Manager of LASTMA Mr Bolaji Oreagba said the judgement was a welcome development as it would serve as a deterrent to others who are still extorting money from innocent members of the public under false pretence.
Oreagba also noted that the “Our (LASTMA) Monitoring and Surveillance Unit which has now been fully restructured would continue to hunt for other bad elements disturbing the peace of the society”
Ahmed Musa Equals Zidane’s Record, Surpasses Viera, Lampard
Super Eagles captain, Ahmed Musa, has become the most capped Nigerian player after his appearance in the second leg of Nigeria’s Africa Cup of Nations qualifying match against Guinea-Bissau.
The Nigerian national team defeated the Djurtus of Guinea-Bissau 1-0 at the Estadio 24 de Setembro.
However, Musa, who made his Eagles debut in 2010, and was also part of the 2013 Nations Cup-winning side, earned 108 caps – setting a new record for Nigeria.
With his feat, he has equaled France’s midfielder Zinedine Zidane, German’s Jurgen Klinsmann, and England’s Tim Cahill’s 108 national caps.
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Also, the 30-year-old Super Eagles captain surpassed Patrick Vieira’s 107 international caps for France, and Frank Lampard’s 106 caps for the Three Lions of England.
Since his debut, the Nigerian forward has scored 16 goals for the national team. He is Nigeria’s highest scorer in the World Cup with four goals.
He also has 92 club goals and 65 assists.
NGO Trains Delta Community On Tools For Environmental Justice
The Connected Advocacy, a Benin-based NGO, on Monday trained the residents of Owa/Alidinma community in Agbor, Delta State, on strengthening local movement and demand spaces for environmental justice.
The training featured sessions on environmental monitoring, smart advocacy tools for environmental justice and how to build a non-violent environmental justice movement.
The Director of the NGO, Mr Israel Orekha, said the capacity building was aimed to enable local communities to advocate for and demand freedom from pollution, environmental degradation and exploitation.
READ ALSO: Pollution: Respect For Human, Environmental Rights Take Centre Stage As NGO Organises Capacity Building In Delta Community
Orekha said the training was due to the impact of oil exploration in the community, which include crises, environmental degradation, diversion of monetary benefits, intimidation from the traditional rulers and non-compliance with environmental multilateral agreements, among others.
“The imperative of smart advocacy tools for environmental justice are evidence-based collective efforts or strategies targeting decision-makers and polluters.
“The training focuses on influencing the actions, programmes and policies of the International Oil Companies (IOCs) and governments toward environmentally friendly interventions, fulfilling the agreement for the protection of the earth, people and planets.”
Taking the participants on environmental monitoring tools, Cadmus Atake-Enade, said the devices were effective for mitigating the danger of fossil-fuel extraction in the local communities.
He encouraged participants to monitor their environment through air, water and soil pollution, and biodiversity issues.
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Atake-Enade listed tools for monitoring the physical environment like pens, pencils, cameras and whistles, saying the need to document the findings or monitor the evidence cannot be over-emphasised.
The training concluded with the reconciliation of the Traditional Community Council and Host Community Network operating in the community.
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