The House of Representatives is expected to commence debate on the general principle of a bill that seeks to provide for the restructuring of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) Board and management personnel by setting up a good framework for the appointment of competent persons with notable achievement to conduct the affairs of the Commission with transparency, accountability; and for related matters.
As proposed in the bill, the Commission is to be funded through payments of 15 per cent of total monthly allocations of member states, 3 per cent total annual budget of the oil-producing company operating onshore and offshore in the Niger-Delta,
A total annual budget of any gas processing company in the Niger-Delta area, excluding the cost of feed gas; 50 per cent of monies due to member states of the Commission from the Ecological Fund; such monies as may be granted, lent to or deposited with the Commission by the Federal or a State Government, among others.
This was contained in the private member bill seeks to repeal the NDDC (Establishment etc,) bill, No.6 2000 and the NNDC (Establishment, etc.) (Amendment) Act No. 23, 2017 and enact the NNDC Act, 2021 sponsored by Chairman, House Committee on NDDC, Hon Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo.
Clause 2 of the proposed bill which provides that the NDDC Board shall consist of a Chairman, and a person who shall be an indigene of an oil producing area to represent each of the member states; three persons to represent non-oil mineral producing states provided that such membership shall be drawn from the remaining geo-political zones which are not represented in the Commission as well as one representative of oil producing companies in the Niger-Delta nominated by the Oil Producing Companies, one representative from Federal Ministries of Finance, Environment, and Niger Delta Affairs; NDDC Managing Director and two Executive Directors.
Hon Tunji-Ojo proposed that the Chairman and other members of the Board shall be appointed by the President, subject to confirmation by the Senate in consultation with the House of Representatives; persons with at least 15 and 12 years cognate experience in their field of endeavour including expertise in the oil and gas sector, environmental sciences, human resources, dispute resolution or other fields in the science sector; persons with proven integrity, capability and competence; and persons with no criminal record.
As stipulated in Clause 5 of the bill, the office of the Chairman shall rotate amongst the member states of the Commission in the following alphabetical order: Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Imo, Ondo and Rivers.
On the functions of the Commission, Clause 6 provides that the Commission shall formulate policies and guidelines for the development of the Niger-Delta area; formulate, plan and implement, in accordance with set rules and regulations, projects and programmes for the sustainable development of the Niger-Delta area in the field of transportation including roads, jetties and waterways, health, education, employment, industrialisation, agriculture and fisheries, housing and urban development, water supply, electricity and telecommunications; cause the Niger-Delta area to be surveyed in order to ascertain measures which are necessary to promote its physical and socio-economic development.
The Commission is also expected to: prepare master plans and schemes designed to promote the physical development of the Niger-Delta area and the estimates of the costs of implementing such master plans and schemes; implement all the measures approved for the developed of the Niger Delta area by the Federal Government and the member States of the Commission; identify factors inhibiting the development of the Niger-Delta area and assist the member States in the formulation and implementation of policies to ensure sound and efficient management of the resources of the Niger-Delta area; assess and report on any project being funded or carried out in the Niger Delta area by oil and gas producing companies and any other company including non-governmental organisations and ensure that funds released for such projects are properly utilised; tackle ecological and environmental problems that arise from the exploration of oil mineral in the Niger Delta area and advise the Federal Government and the member States on the prevention and control of oil spillages, gas flaring environmental pollution; liaise with the various oil mineral and gas prospecting and producing companies on all matters of pollution prevention and control; and execute such other works and perform such other functions which, in the opinion of the Commission, are required for the sustainable development of the Niger-Delta area and its people.
“In performing its function and exercising its powers under this section, the Commission shall have regard to the varied and specific contributions of each member State of the Commission to the total national production of oil and gas; the Commission is subject to the direction, control or supervision of the President in the performance of its function under this Bill.”
The Board is also empowered to manage and supervise affairs of the Commission; make rules and regulations for performing functions of the Commission; enter and inspect premises, projects and such places as may be necessary for the purposes of performing its functions under this Bill; pay the staff of the Commission such remuneration and allowances appropriate; enter into such contracts as may be necessary or expedient for the performance of its functions and ensure the efficient performance of the functions of the Commission; and do such other things as are necessary and expedient for the efficient performance of the functions of the Commission.
Clause 9 of the bill also provides for the establishment of the Management Committee which shall consist of NDDC Chairman, three Executive Directors, Directors responsible for the Directorates and such number of other members as may be determined by the Board; and be responsible to the Board for the general Administration of the Commission.
Clause 10 also provides for the establishment of the Niger-Delta Development Advisory Committee which shall consist of: the Governors of the member States of the Commission and two other persons as may be determined by the President.
“The Advisory Committee shall be charged with the responsibility of advising the Board and monitoring the activities of the Commission, with a view to achieving the objective of the Commission.”
As stipulated in Clause 11 on the appointment of Managing Director and Executive Directors, the NDDC Managing Director and three Executive Directors shall be indigenes of oil producing areas starting with member States of the Commission with the highest production quantum of oil then rotate amongst member states in order of production.
On the funding of the Commission, Clause 13 of the proposed bill provides that the Commission shall maintain a fund from which shall be defrayed all expenditure incurred by the Commission; there shall be paid and credited to the Fund from the Federal Government the equivalent of 15 percent of the total monthly statutory allocations due to member States of the Commission from the Federation Account; 3 percent of the total annual budget of any oil producing company operating onshore and offshore in the Niger-Delta, and the total annual budget of any gas processing company in the Niger-Delta area, excluding the cost of feed gas; 50 percent of monies due to member States of the Commission from the Ecological Fund; such monies as may be granted, lent to or deposited with the Commission by the Federal or a State Government, any other body or institution whether local or foreign; all moneys raised for the purposes of the Commission by way of gifts, loan, grants-in-aid, testamentary disposition or otherwise; and proceeds from all other assets that may, from time to time, accrue to the Commission.
“The fund shall be managed in accordance with the rules made by the Board, and without prejudice to the generality of the power to make rules under this subsection, the rules shall in particular contain provisions: specifying the manner in which the assets or the fund of the Commission are to be held, and regulating the making of payments into and out of the Fund; and requiring the keeping of proper accounts and records for the purpose of the Fund in such form as may be specified in the rules.
The bill also seeks to empower Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) to collect and remit funds from oil producing and gas processing companies and penalty for non-compliance.
Clause 14 empowers FIRS to assess, collect and remit the fund due to the Commission under clause 14 (2b); the payment of the fund under clause 14 (2b) is due within 60 days after the Service has served notice of the assessment on the companies under clause 14(2b); the Service shall withhold the tax clearance certificate of companies that do not comply with the provisions of clause 14(2b).