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Senate Kicks As President Submits NDDC’s Budget

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Senate Kicks As President Submits NDDC’s Budget

Senate Kicks As President Submits NDDC’s Budget
November 27
18:47 2019

There was a mild drama at the Senate yesterday as the 2019/2020 Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) budget was presented.

After Senate President Ahmad Lawan read President Muhammadu Buhari’s letter during plenary, Minority Leader Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe wondered who will appear before the relevant Senate committees to defend the budget proposal.

He noted that the confirmed NDDC governing board members were yet to be inaugurated.

Abaribe said: “We just heard from you (Senate President) the communication from Mr President which relates to the presentation of the NDDC’s Budget for approval.

“Of course, what it will mean is that the budget will go to the relevant committee of appropriation and the NDDC Committee and some persons will come to defend the budget.

“Having regard to the fact that this Senate has confirmed members of the board of the NDDC and they are yet to resume office, Mr President, I fear that we may run into a problem of delayed budget again since nobody will come to defend this budget.

“Because this August body, having confirmed the board of NDDC, will not countenance any illegal contraption coming in front of us to say they are representing the NDDC.

“I know that this may be preemptive, but my people say that if we act quickly we will prevent disaster from coming.

“So, to prevent a delayed budget for the NDDC, that is helping the region for development, it would be better for us to prevent this issue from coming and let the needful be done.”

Lawan sustained Abaribe’s point of order and urged the executive to do the right thing.

Lawan said: “Because you have come under order 43. This motion is not subject to debate but let me sustain your point of order.

“As far as we are concerned, we have confirmed the NDDC board members as the President requested.

“We have communicated that and 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 will attend to that quickly so that we have the right people to come and defend the Appropriation request of Mr President.”

Also on Tuesday, Minister of Niger Delta Affairs Godswill Akpabio said the NDDC has not lived up to expectations.

He spoke with reporters after a meeting with a House Committee that is investigating the NDDC.

On the quantum of abandoned projects, Akpabio said: “For instance, the head office of the NDDC, which was started and not completed, we are on it. Working closely with the committee, we will deliver the head office by April 2020.

“The big cardiovascular hospital abandoned for years, which is 80 per cent complete, we are also working to ensure that is completed.

“About 91 containers of electrical equipment, including 5000 transformers are at Onne port and we are on the verge of clearing them. When we do, we will give light to a lot of communities in the region.”

On the forensic audit ordered by the president, he said: “The forensic audit is on course. The intention is that if anybody has committed misappropriation or otherwise, it is a window of opportunity for them to go back to site for monies they collected and complete the projects, make a refund or face the law.

“The essence of it may not necessarily be to unearth fraud, it is to find out why the agency failed in 18 years because we cannot say it has been a success story.”

The minister said that the forensic audit is all-encompassing.

“At the end of the audit, I will expect that the governance structure will have been well set; I will expect that we will have the total number of projects and the total number of people who collected money without doing those projects.

“How come the IOCs are not obeying the laws? If the Federal Government has responsibilities to the NDDC, how far did it carry them out? If NDDC is suffering from limitations on account of monies owed by the Federal Government, this audit will also bring that out,” he said.

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Mujeeb

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