The unexplained battle of supremacy between Niger Delta Minister and former Senate Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio, has swung the way of the former Governor following a terse morning statement by the Presidency that its chief occupant, Muhammadu Buhari, will reconstitute the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC); and prefers that the Interim Management Committee, constituted by his minister, remains in place to complete its on-going forensic audit.
The two-paragraph statement by Aso Villa’s chief spokesman, Mr. Femi Adesina, reads: “President Muhammadu Buhari has approved that the Board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) be recomposed and inaugurated after the forensic audit of the organization.
“The President has also directed that the Interim Management Team of the NDDC shall be in place till the forensic is completed, and that the supervision of the Commission shall remain under the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs.”
The latest move is seen as a political slap on the face of a doting Senate which screened and approved a board six weeks ago, a board which list of nominees was sent in by the President himself.
On November 5, the Senate confirmed fifteen out of the sixteen nominees forwarded by President Muhammadu Buhari to the National Assembly for confirmation as board members.
The nominees confirmed by the Senate were: Dr. Pius Odubu (Edo), Chairman; Bernard Okumagba (Delta), Managing Director; Engr. Otobong Ndem (Akwa-Ibom), Executive Director (Projects); Maxwell Oko (Bayelsa), Executive Director, Finance and Admin; Jones Erue (Delta), and Chief Victor Ekhator (Edo).
Others were: Nwogu N. Nwogu (Abia), Theordore Allison (Bayelsa), Victor Antai (Akwa-Ibom), Maurice Effiwatt (Cross River), Olugbenga Edema (Ondo), Hon. Uchegbu Chidiebere Kyrian (Imo), Aisha Murtala Muhammed (Kano), Shuaibu Ardo Zubairu (Adamawa), and Ambassador Abdullahi Bage (Nasarawa).
One of the nominees and the Acting Managing Director of the commission, Dr. Joy Yimebe Nunieh, representing Rivers State on the board was rejected because she did not show up for the screening.
Almost overstepping his bounds, the Senate President, Dr. Ahmed Lawan, called for the dissolution of the management committee, headed by Nunieh, for the board to take over.
The IMC began a push-back, suggesting that the Upper Legislative Chamber wanted it out because the hands of some of its members were soiled in dealings within the NDDC. One of the IMC members went a step further to say a senator was awarded about 300 contracts and did not execute them.
As the political war of attrition continued, the Senate put aside the 2019 Budget of the NDDC, insisting that it would only deal with the board it screened.
National Assembly watchers are waiting to see how the Senate will swallow its pride and screen a new board.