The Senate on Wednesday waded into the controversial extension of the tenure of the Board of the Niger Delta Development Commission.
The Senate in its resolution mandated the Senate Committee on Niger Delta to liaise with Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, to look into the real issue so that it can deal with.
Leading the motion on the illegal extension of the tenure of the NDDC board, Senator Emmanuel Paulker observed the office the chairman should be rotated among the states according to the act establishing the commission.
Paulker however said the recent developments in the agency has violated the act establishing the commission on the tenure of chairman of the commission.
Paulker said: “Observes that the Niger Delta Development Commission was established to tackle developmental issues affecting the Niger Delta;
“Notes that it was in response to the age-long agitation of the people of the Niger Delta that had snowballed into militancy which disrupted oil production and affected our national economic interest that the Commission was established;
“Notes further that the Commission consist of a Board made up of members drawn from the States of Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross-River, Delta, Edo, Imo, Ondo and Rivers;
“Observes that Section 4 of the act states that the office of the Chairman shall rotate amongst member States of the Commission in alphabetical order;
“Observes that the Chairmanship of the NDDC started with Abia State and has rotated in accordance with the Act up to Cross-River state now;
“Observes that the NDDC Act also states that “where a vacancy occurs in the membership board it shall be filled by the appointment of a successor to hold office for the remainder of the term of his predecessor, so however, that the successor shall represent the same interest and shall be appointed by the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces subject to the confirmation of the Senate in consultation with the House of Representatives;
“Observes that the Board headed by Senator Victor Ndoma Egba, SAN, was appointed by the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces to replace the one headed by Senator Bassey Henshaw;
“Observes further that Section 5 (3) of the Act dictates that the Board headed by Senator Victor Ndoma Egba, SAN serves out the remainder of the term of the board chaired by Senator Bassey Henshaw will terminate in December 2017;
“Notes that contrary to the clear provisions of Section 5 (3) of the N DPC Act, the tenure of the presetnt Board of the Commission has been illegally extended to four years by the immediate past Acting Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Dr. Habiba Muda Lawal;
“Worried that contravention of the NDDC Act portends grave danger to the relative peace we enjoy in the Niger Delta.”
Seconding the motion, the Senate leader, Ahmad Lawan, appealed to his colleagues for calm, explaining that Mustapha was newly appointed as the SGF.
Lawan said: “Yesterday, I was with the SGF and others trying find out what happened.
“I appeal to all of us that since we have new SGF who wants to work with us, I will advice and move that we ask our committee on NDDC to liaise with the office of the SGF, who wants to look into the real issues so that we deal with it.”
The President of the Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, also appealed for calm on the matter since the newly appointed SGF is ready to work with the Senate.
Saraki said: “Yesterday, after the presentation of the budget, apart from SGF coming to thank us, he also took up the matter. I think in spirit of our relationship that we are not here just to always antagonize the executive.
“The day of balderdash are over.
“We have a new SGF and we must also show that.
“Let this matter be referred to the Senate Committee on NDDC.”
It could be recalled that Lawal conveyed the approval of President Muhammadu Buhari for a new four-year term to the board in a memo on October 16, 2017, with reference number: SGF.55/S.2/C.3/IV/168.
Lawal reportedly acted on the legal advice of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami.
The ex-SGF’s letter, addressed to Prof. Brambaifa Nelson, said: “I am pleased to inform you that the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria… has approved your appointment as member of the governing board of the NDDC following your confirmation by the Senate on Tuesday, 11 October, 2016, in accordance with section 2 (2)(a) of the NDDC Commission (Establishment) Act, 2000. Your appointment is on part-time basis, in line with Section 2(3) of the Act.
“Your appointment took effect from n1st November, 2016 and you are to serve a term of four years in line with section 3(1) of the Act.
“The allowances attached to your appointment are as provided under the Special Category of Federal Government Agencies and Statutory Corporations as specified in Circular Ref. No. SW/04/ /S.310/T/65 of 8th April, 2016. This letter supersedes the earlier Ref. No. SGF.55/S.2/C.3/IV/52 issued on the 1st November, 2016…”
But section 5 (2) of the extant NDDC Act states: “Where a vacancy occurs in the membership of the Board, it shall be filled by the appointment of a successor to hold office for the remainder of the term of office of his predecessor, so however, that the successor shall represent the same interest and shall be appointed by the President, subject to the confirmation of the Senate, in consultation with the House of Representatives.”
(the eagle online)