THE Senate on Tuesday kicked against the presentation of the 2020 budget of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC submitted by President Muhammadu Buhari via a letter during plenary, citing administrative illegalities.
During the plenary session, while Senate President Ahmad Lawan read President Buhari’s letter to the Senate requesting the senators to approve the 2020 fiscal budget for the commission to kick start its projects.
Enyinnaya Abaribe, representing Abia-South Senatorial District of Abia State and also doubles as Minority leader of the Senate opposed the request using order 43 of the Senate Standing Orders on personal explanation stating that the board members of the NDDC had not been sworn into office.
“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 this means 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,” he said.
He explained that if the budget was approved by the Senate, it would set a bad precedent because President Buhari is yet to formally appoint a board to manage the affairs of the NDDC.
“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,” he said.
Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe cites Order 43 and referring to the executive communication says “The NDDC board has not been set up and to prevent a delayed budget for the Commission that helps Nigeria generate revenue, it will be better…
— The Nigerian Senate (@NGRSenate) November 26, 2019
“I know that this may be preemptive, but my people say that if we act quick we will prevent disaster from coming.
Lawan sustained Abaribe’s point of order and urged the executive to do the right thing so that the right persons can come and defend the NDDC’s budget.
“Thank you Minority Leader but because you have come under order 43, this motion is not subject to debate but let me sustain your point of order.
“I believe that the executive arm of government will attend to that quickly so that we have the right people to come and defend the Appropriation request of the President,” Lawan stated.
In October, President Buhari wrote to the Senate seeking the confirmation of nominees for the governing board of the NDDC, and the Senate confirmed 16 board members.
The nominees include the Chairman, Pius Odubu (Edo) Managing Director, Bernard O. Okumagba (Delta), Executive Director Projects, Otobong Ndem (Akwa Ibom), Executive Director Finance and Admin, Maxwell Okoh (Bayelsa), Delta State representative, Prophet Jones Erue; Chief Victor Ekhatar (Edo), Joy Yimebe Nunieh (Rivers); and Nwogu Nwogu Abi’s.
Others are Theodore A. Allison (Bayelsa), Victor Antai (Akwa Ibom) Maurice Effiwatt (Cross River); Olugbenga Elema Ondo), Uchegbu Chidiebere Kyrian (Imo), Northwest Rep, Aisha Murtala Muhammed (Kano); Northeast Rep, Ardo Zubairu (Adamawa) and Southwest Rep, Badmus Mutalib (Lagos).
But the members are yet to be sworn into office to begin official duties in their various capacities.