May 18, 2021

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Akpabio Dares Senate

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Niger Delta Minister, Senator Godswill Akpabio looks ready for war with the Nigerian senate, over the leadership of the Niger Delta Development Commission. Akpabio prefers to have his interim management team in charge of affairs at the NDDC, as against the position of the senate, which has since screened and confirmed the board members as appointed by the president, Muhammadu Buhari.
Already, Akpabio is pushing for the Interim Management Committee, IMC, to remain in office for the next six months. It was learnt that the minister has already given a letter to that effect to the IMC, an action that is seen as an affront on the senate.
The president’s nominees that have already been confirmed and waiting to be inaugurated include a former deputy governor of Edo State, Dr. Pius Odubu who will serve as chairman of the board and the managing director Bernard Okumagba.
Others are the Executive Director, Finance and Administration, Maxwell Oko from Bayelsa State as well as the Delta State representative, Prophet Jones Erue; Chief Victor Ekhator (Edo) and Nwogu Nwogu (Abia).
Also in the board are Theodore Allison, representing Bayelsa State, Victor Antai (Akwa Ibom), Maurice Effiwatt (Cross River), Olugbenga Elema (Ondo), Uchegbu Chidiebere Kyrian (Imo), Northeast representative, Ardo Zubairu from Adamawa state and Ambassador Abdullahi Bage from Nasarawa State who is to represent the North Central geopolitical zone.
Dr. Joy Yimebe Nunieh, currently the head of the Akpabio’s IMC, is from Rivers, She was not at screening when her other colleagues were being screened. So, she was not confirmed. Nunieh believes that with Akpabio’s support, she and her team has six months to remain in office.
It is not clear how the IMC is running the NDDC, as the Central Bank has still refused to allow a change in signatories to the NDDC accounts. Event the letter from Akpabio to the IMC endorsing their stay in office for six months is not changing anything.
Sources at the NDDC disclosed to TNN that the IMC may have been sourcing funds from contractors who are hopeful that Akpabio’s IMC would pull through and have the president’s endorsement for them to stay in office for the next six months, during which period they would be paid and their current ‘investments’ recovered.
Last month after an APC gubernatorial rally in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, Akpabio was said to have met with some top party leaders in the APC, where he was said to have requested that the deputy senate president, Senator Obarisi Ovie Omo-Agege and the minister of state, petroleum, Chief Timipre Sylva should arrange a meeting where his IMC would meet with the new board members and strike a deal, in order to create the impression before the public, that there was no rancour.
His idea was said to have been rebuffed by the APC leaders. Both the national chairman of the senate, Adams Oshiomhole and Omo-Agege are said to be very angry with Akpabio for causing distractions in the NDDC.
The senate leadership and the members are also very angry with Akpabio. Last week , they took a position that the NDDC budget would not receive the attention of the senate until the new board has been inaugurated.
Even the House of Representatives are also of the opinion that they would have nothing to do with the NDDC budget for as long as the IMC, which is seen by a generality of the Nigerian public as an illegality, remains in office.
But Akpabio is not willing to follow the law establishing the NDDC. He still prefers to be in control of the NDDC, through the IMC.
His position is that the IMC is in office to supervise the forensic audit as ordered by the president. his chief press secretary, Mr Anitie Ekong has not been responding too messages from TNN. But his recent press releases have been in defence of the minister’s insistence on an interim leadership for the NDDC.
Akpabio’s stance is not going down well with some major stakeholders in the region. They want the board inaugurated immediately, as that will resolve the lingering feud in the region. Already, a group in the region, the Niger Delta Accountability Network (NDAN) has asked the president to inaugurate the new board without delay.
In a statement, by president Hon Patrick Funkekeme and general secretary Comrade Richard Irabor, they hailed the Senate’s decision not to deal with the NDDC budget until the right thing was done.
a “bold move for the reestablishment of order and due process.” It added that the decision of the Senate has reinforced its faith in the capacity of the 9th National Assembly to provide credible oversight while cooperating with the executive branch, and asked President Muhammadu Buhari to “reciprocate the Senate’s goodwill by directing the newly-confirmed board to resume immediately.”
The NDAN said by that insisting on the board confirmed by it, the Senate has proven to be a “dependable ally of the people.” According to the group, “the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has shown that it is a law-abiding institution and credible ally of the people with its decision to follow the law on the defence of the NDDC budget. We are encouraged that Mr President as a firm believer in the law and due process will not allow the illegal interim management committee continue to distort the operations of the NDDC.”
At plenary on Tuesday, after the Senate President Dr Ahmad Lawan had read out a letter from the president presenting the NDDC 2019/2020 budget for consideration, Senate Minority Leader Dr Enyinnaya Abaribe drew the attention of members to the fact that the board, which was confirmed on November 5, had not been inaugurated; rather, the NDDC was still being run by an interim committee, which was hastily put together by the minister of Niger Delta Affairs. He made it clear that the NDDC Act did not provide for an interim management and it would be unlawful for people not known to the law to defend its budget proposals.
Also, the Concerned Youth Leaders of Niger Delta says they are deeply worried by the controversies characterizing the activities of the NDDC in recent times. They made their position known in a statement by Razak W. Amatoru and Omoro Ogei, among others.
“We are aware that a new Board has been appointed and subsequently confirmed by the Senate after several caretaker committees. We, therefore, urge Mr President to immediately inaugurate the new Board. We strongly believe that the quick inauguration of the Board would douse the prevailing disenchantment amongst stakeholders and pave the way for the Commission to function properly and effectively.
“While we support the thorough audit of the commission, particularly by a reputable International audit firm to get rid of its rots, we make bold to say that we are not interested in these illegal contraption called caretaker or interim management committee arrangements which do not bode well for the overall interest of the Commission and the people of Niger Delta region. We would like to use this medium to strongly and dispassionately appeal to the Ministry of Niger Delta and its leadership to listen to the people of Niger Delta and desist from anything that is capable of undermining the smooth takeoff and running of the new Board.
“We cannot at this juncture forget to commend the Nigerian Senate for their insistence that the budget of the Commission must be defended by the confirmed new Board. We sincerely applaud the leadership of the Senate in particular for boldly standing on the side of the law. Accordingly, we respectfully urge the National Assembly to further engage the Presidency to ensure the swift inauguration of the new Board of NDDC.
“It is self-evident that the recent crisis in the Commission has taken us backward in terms of development. We don’t have time and resources to waste on personal selfish interests anymore. Let all genuine stakeholders treat the development of our region far above our personal interests.”

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