Finally National Assembly adopts NDDC budget lifts ban on commission

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Edozie Udeojo,Abuja

Citing transparency, humility and commitment to accountability the National Assembly yesterday resolved to lift the ban it earlier placed on the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), the parliamentarians also adopted the 2021 budget proposal of the commission.

The resolutions were reached at the joint budget defense session which had in attendance members of the committees on Niger Delta and NDDC of the Senate and House of Representatives, where both chambers agreed to work with the NDDC led a sole administrator.

The meeting had in attendance committee Chairmen Senate committee on Niger Delta, Senator Peter Nwaboshi and the Chairman House of Representatives of Niger Delta Development Commission.

Making his maiden attendance before the committee, the newly appointed interim sole administrator of the commission, Mr. Effiong Akwa had in a letter addressed to the President of Senate, Senator Ahmed Lawan indicated his commitment to transparency, honesty and accountability in the discharge of his duties. On accountability Effiong, explained in the letter his awareness of the implications of spending funds outside budgetary allocation and appropriation.

In view of the objective of the letter , Senator James Manager moved a motion for the NDDC budget proposal to be adopted by the committee, the motion was subsequently seconded by the spokesperson of the House of Representatives, Benjamin Kalu, this was followed by an unanimous.resolution by members of both parliament to receive the commission’s budget.

Prior to the resolution, Nwaboshi had in his remark charged the Effiong to see the gesture by the committee as a privilege, he urged the new sole administrator to remain firm in his words, not to take undue advantage of the privilege given to him by the committee.

In his words “The motion on the floor.moved by Senator Manager seconded by Hon. Benjamin Kalu saying that in view of the new administrator’s humble disposition and in line with the letter he wrote telling us that he understands the implication of spending money without it.being appropriated. I want to thank the Senate President for lifting the ban placed on them for incompetence and some of the infractions the IMC committed.

“Before you take your leave take it.that this is a rare privilege and I am happy that the gentlemen of the press.are here , let us hope that you will stand and live by your words.

“However; we have lawyers accountants.and auditors here , we have the power to invite you again in a joint session.and in that joint session , you may have to present this budget again”. We are allowing you to go as a mark of respect to you and because of the humility you have exhibited here said Nwaboshi.

In his remarks on the letter Chief Whip of the Senate , Senator Orji Kalu rallied his colleagues to lend their support to the new administrator.

He said :” Given the letter that distinguished Senator Nwaboshi read , the letter was written to the Senate President I think that should give us some hope , we are not in this hall to be fighting everyday. Let’s give this gentleman a benefit of doubt . He will come again and we are going to throughly scrutinize this budget.Let’s give him the benefit of doubt to go and we shall work on the budget.

On his part Chairman House of Representatives committee on Niger Delta Commission, Hon.Tunji Ojo drew attention of Effiong to the issues which had bedevilled the commission under the erstwhile Interim Management Committee (IMC) He urged the Effiong to seek for alternative means for funding the commission.

He said “It is imperative to draw.attention to some of the concerns that we have consistently raised during our interactions for the purpose of reiterating the objective of NDDC which is to drive sustainable development in the Niger Delta region. It’s a proposal we would like to propose to you and advice that the NDDC has to look at alternative means of revenue generation, hopefully 30% for partnerships, joint ventures agreement and 50% for capital development projects and 20% for completion and payment of existing projects.

Hon. Tunji also urged Effiong to be transparent.

“I wish to congratulate you the new sole administrator It’s my desire and hope that you will not abuse this privilege and you return to this house and you will make us proud as an accountant that you are. We hope to see the difference, we hope to see transparency being displayed and we hope to see that.performance being..epitomized, Tunji concluded.

Recall that the NDDC led by the now dissolved Interim Management Committee, accused of alleged financial recklessness to the tune of N40 billion.

The 2 chambers of the national assembly had set up ad-hoc committees to investigate the alleged mismanagement of N40 billion by the IMC within a period of 3 month.

The Senate in plenary on Thursday July 23, resolved that the IMC be disbanded and made to refund the sum of N4.923 billion.

As a result of the plerophia of against the Interim Management Committee of the NDDC, President Muhammadu Buhari on December 12, appointed a sole administrator to run the affairs of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

Effiong Akwa, who has been the acting executive director, finance and administration in the NDDC, “is to assume headship (of the commission) till completion of the forensic audit,” .

Also recall that a Federal High Court in Abuja recently issued an order restraining Kemebradikumo Pondei-led interim management from running the affairs of the commission.

Members of the parliament present; include; Hon. Boma Goodhead , Senator Ajayi Borofice, Senator Akon Eyakenyi, Senator Isitifanus Gyang among others.