The inexplicable cold war between the Minister of Niger Delta, former Senate Minority Leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio, continues to rear its head with the insistence of the Upper Legislative chamber that confirmed board members of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) be sworn-in.
The Senate insistence on Tuesday tallied with receiving a formal request from President Muhammadu Buhari for the consideration and passage of the 2019/2020 budget estimates for the Commission.
The President’s request was contained in a letter addressed to the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, and read on the floor during plenary.
The letter reads: “Pursuant to Section 18(1) of the Nigerian Delta Development Commission Establishment Act, I forward herewith 2019/2020 budget estimates of the Niger Delta Development Commission for the kind consideration and passage by the Senate.
“While hoping that the Senate will consider this request in the usual expeditious manner, please accept, Mr. President, the assurances of my highest consideration.”
As soon as the letter was read, the Senate Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe, coming under order 43 of the Senate standing rules, 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.
According to him, 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.
He added that 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.
He said, “Having regard to the fact that this Senate has confirmed members of the board of the NDDC and they are yet to resume office.
“I fear that we may run into a problem of delayed budget again since nobody will come to defend this budget.
“This Senate, having confirmed the board of the NDDC will not countenance any illegal contraption coming to represent NDDC.
“To prevent a late budget for NDDC that is helping Nigeria on revenue and development of the region, it will be better for us to prevent this issue from coming.”
Lawan, who sustained Abaribe’s point of order in his ruling said, “We are receiving the budget of the NDDC for the year 2020 at the right time.
“This is the first time ever, and this is a good sign that we are operating on the same frequency with the executive arm of government; that we are in a hurry to deal with matters of the budget because it is an issue that will bring about development in the country.”
“As far as we are concerned, this Senate knows that we have confirmed the request of Mr. President on the board membership of the NDDC, and we have communicated that.
“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 defend the appropriation request of Mr. President”, Lawan said.