NDDC Board: Senate Draws Battle Line With Presidency

The cordial relationship between the Presidency and the National Assembly is heading for a rupture.

NDDC board: Senate draws battle line with Presidency

The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) is at the centre of it.

Also creating a friction, is the failure of key government agencies, to submit their audited report for scrutiny.

President Muhammadu Buhari sent the budget of the NDDC for consideration but the Senate said on Thursday that it will not work on it unless the members of the board which it cleared on the request of the President are inaugurated.

Senate President Ahmad Lawan declared that members of the Interim Management Committee (IMC) would not be received for the budget defence.

The Senate said with the clearance of the board members and management members, the IMC had ceased to function.

But the three-man IMC members – acting Managing Director, Dr. Joi Nunieh, acting Executive Director, Finance and Administration, Chief Ibanga Bassey Etang and the acting Executive Director, Projects, Dr. Cairo Ojougbo – are still operating with Minister of Niger Delta Affairs Godswill Akpabio’s support while the cleared board members are in limbo.

“I want to also reiterate here that you (Senate Committee on NDDC) deal with the governing board this Senate has approved,” Lawan said while referring the NDDC’s budget proposals for 2020 to the Senate Committee on NDDC for further legislative work, to set the tone for a confrontation.

Members of the NDDC Governing Board confirmed by the Senate, include a former Edo State Deputy Governor, Dr. Pius Odubu, as chairman and Mr. Bernard Okumagba as Managing Director.

Others are Executive Director Projects,. Otobong Ndem (Akwa Ibom), Executive Director Finance and Administration, Maxwell Okoh (Bayelsa State), Delta State representative Prophet Jones Erue; Chief Victor Ekhator (Edo) and Nwogu Nwogu (Abia), Theodore Allison, (Bayelsa State), Victor Antai (Akwa Ibom); Maurice Effiwatt (Cross River); Olugbenga Elema (Ondo) and Uchegbu Chidiebere Kyrian (Imo).

Also confirmed were the Northeast representative, Ardo Zubairu (Adamawa), Ambassador Abdullahi Bage (Nasarawa) to represent the North Central zone as well as Aisha Murtala Muhammed (Kano ) to represent the Northwest Zone.

Another sore point in the Executive-Legislature relationship is the failure of key agencies of the government to submit audit reports for consideration.

The senate on Thursday frowned at the Central bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and others.

It warned of dire consequences over failure to submit their audited reports after a seven-day ultimatum.

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Public Accounts, Senator Matthew Urhoghide, said  18 out of the 25 agencies have neither submitted their reports nor write to explain the rationale for their action.

He warned the agencies to submit their reports in the overall interest of the country or be penalized according to law for failure to disclose their financial transactions as stipulated by the Constitution.

The Nations reports that other defaulting agencies, according to him, include the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA), Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA), National Agency for Science and Engineering and Infrastructure (NASENI), Nigeria Investment Promotion Council, National Space Research and  Development Agency, Nigerian Building and Road Research Institute, Nigeria Maritime Administration  and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Petroleum  Equalization Fund, Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, Presidential Amnesty Programmé and the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company, (NPDC).

Others are Small and Medium Enterprise Development Agency, Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Nigerian Airspace Management Agency,  Nigerian Railway Corporation, and  National Primary Healthcare Development Agency.

Urhoghide said: “Recall that on 20th November, 2019, the Senate Public Accounts Committee drew the attention of some agencies of government numbering 25 to their failure to submit relevant documents on their income and expenditure for its oversight functions. The agencies were given 7 days to send their responses to the Committee.

“Despite the lapse of time, some agencies have refused to respond to the Committee. The committee, in carrying out its oversight functions will not relent in ensuring that the agencies are called to account for their stewardship in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution, Senate Standing Orders and Extant Acts.

“It is necessary for these agencies to note that they must comply with the directive of the Committee in the overall public interest.”

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