There may be an imminent clash between the Presidency and the Senate over the status of the newly confirmed board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) as the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, yesterday insisted that with the approval of the Senate on November 5, the approved board has become the authentic authorities in charge of the NDDC.
The Senate President reiterated yesterday that the Senate will only deal with the board members of the Delta Development Commission, NDDC it screened and confirmed this month.
Speaking shortly after the Senate Leader, Senator Yahaya Abdullahi, All Progressives Congress, APC, Kebbi North read the Executive Communication on the 2019 and 2020 Budget Estimates of the NDDC that the Senate do consider of President Muhammadu Buhari.
President of the Senate who refereed the request to the Senator Peter Nwaoboshi, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Delta North led Committee on Niger Delta Affairs to return at plenary in two weeks. Lawan said,” I want to reiterate for emphasis that you deal with the Governing Board that this Senate approved.”
Recall that President of the Senate had on Tuesday read a letter from the President on the 2019 and 2020 budget estimates of NDDC.
The President of the Senate said, “ 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 Mr. President.”
Lawan had read the President’s request at plenary which is contained in a letter dated November 21, 2019 and addressed to him on the approval of the budget proposals for the NDDC. .
The letter reads: “Pursuant to Section 18(1) of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) (Establishment) Act, I forward herewith, the 2019 and 2020 Budget Estimates of the Niger Delta Development Commission, for the kind consideration and passage by the Senate.
“While I trust that the Senate will consider this request in the usual expeditious manner, Please accept, Distinguished Senate President, the assurances of my highest consideration
Recall that President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan had said on Tuesday that the onus was now on the President to do the needful by inaugurating the Dr. Pius Odubu led NDDC following the confirmation by the Upper Chamber in consonance with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Also recall Lawan had said that those it screened and subsequently confirmed as Chairman and board members of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC are the only rightful people that will come and defend the budget of the Commission before its Committee on Niger Delta Affairs.
The Senate had also urged President Muhammadu Buhari to as a matter of urgency, swear in the Dr. Pius Odubu led NDDC Board. Recall that the Senate in the first week of November, confirmed President Muhammadu Buhari’s nominees for the board of NDDC.
The former Deputy Governor of Edo State, Dr. Pius Odubu, was confirmed by the Senate as Chairman of the NDDC Board, just as a nominee from Delta State, Chief Bernard Okumagba, was also confirmed as the NDDC Managing Director.
The confirmation followed the presentation and consideration of the report of the Senate Committee on Niger Delta Affairs by its Chairman, Peter Nwaoboshi, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Delta North.
Also confirmed were Otobong Ndem who is now the Executive Director, Projects and Maxwell Oko as Executive Director, Finance and Administration.
The Senate had also confirmed Prophet Jones Erue (Delta), Chief Victor Ekhator (Edo), Nwogu Nwogu (Abia), Theodore Allison (Bayelsa), Victor Antai (Akwa Ibom), Maurice Effiwatt (Cross River), Olugbenga Elema (Ondo), Hon. Uchegbu Chidiebere Kyrian (Imo), Aisha Murtala Muhammed (Kano), Ardo Zubairu (Adamawa) and Amb. Abdullahi Bage (Nasarawa). Only a nominee from Rivers State, Dr. Joy Yimebe Nunieh was not confirmed by the Senate as she did not appear for screening.
The expired 2018 budget of N346. 5bn of the agency had N2.883bn as Capital Expenditure, while N311.371bn was approved for development projects.
The sum of N19.521bn was for Personnel Cost, while N12. 737bn was for Overhead Expenditure.
Similarly, in 2017, the NDDC got a total of N364bn as its annual budget out of which N329.850bn was approved for capital projects.
Meanwhile, the Senate President yesterday , referred the consideration of the budgets to the Committee on NDDC.
He specifically told the panel to work strictly with the new board approved by the Senate.
He said, “Please make sure you deal directly with the board of the NDDC that the Senate approved.”
Investigations by our correspondent, however, revealed that the interim management team which Akpabio inaugurated, on the orders of the Presidency is still controlling the affairs of the agency. The NDDC panel is expected to start work on the document next week.
In another development, the Senate has begun moves to again improve on the process of nipping in the bud, the security challenges in the country and to have national inclusion by introducing process a bill for the establishment of a National Institute for Security and Strategic Studies in Orumba, Anambra State.
This bill which was read the first time at plenary, will help fill the void that was already in existence and achieve a holistic and comprehensive coverage of strategic security development institutions across the country. The bill is being sponsored by Senator Ifeanyi Ubah, Young Progressives Party, YPP, Anambra South.
After the introduction of the Bill by the Senate Majority Leader, Senator Yahaya Abdullahi, All Progressives Congress, APC, Kebbi North, the Clerk of the Senate, Nelson Ayewor affirmed it.
On the Bill, Senator Ubah said that the proposed legislation “is a strategic intervention geared towards deepening and strengthening Nigeria’s capacity to train and equip our people to tackle the several security and defence challenges of the 21st century.”
“This bill will help fill the void that is already growing, the last piece of the puzzle to achieve a holistic and comprehensive coverage of strategic security development institutions across the country.
“The institute which will see the South East host and complete the circle of zones with tactically placed instruments of state defence and security has been applauded by the Senate as worthy to pass through the first reading”, expressing the hope that the legislative initiative will be approved and passed.
“It is worthy of note to state that out of the six geo-political zones, it is only the South East that does not have a key institution for internal and external security. There are already existing institutions in other geo-political zones.”
According to Senator Ubah, such Institutions include the Staff Services Academy, SSA in Lagos, South West; State Services Technical Academy, SSTA in Calabar, South South; Institute of Security Studies, ISS, recently upgraded to National Institute for Security Studies, NISS in Abuja representing the North Central; Staff Development Centre- SDC in Kaduna, North West, and the Senior Staff Development Centre-SSDC in Bauchi, North East.
The Senator further said that these institutions are mostly saddled with the training of Department of State Services, DSS staff as well as other national security staff/recruitment which is managed by the DSS.
Ubah said, “certain occurrences have in recent times, further exposed the dire need for greater capacity building, institutional strengthening and the strategic integration of all parts of the nation in the security architecture for total national cohesion and unity.
“This, therefore, brings home, the urgent need to establish a security training institute in the South East so as to augment the already existing institutions in other geo-political zones and strengthen our national security architecture,” he added.
Senator Ubah who recalled that the institution was existent in Enugu before it was closed, said however that “the essence of this bill is to create a regional balance/inclusion and cultural background which is a core and pivotal element of intelligence, especially now that security and national inclusion are top priorities of the federal government.”
He said that the institute would nurture and develop dynamic and quality security services in Nigeria through training, examination and certification, adding that it would also be saddled with the responsibility of training students on high standard strategic security studies and intelligence reports.
He further noted that the establishment bill, would also promote and enhance the general development of security by conducting research programmes into security and allied subjects with special emphasis on innovative global security practices while creating security awareness among the general public.
Ubah added that it would not only create employment opportunities, but also engender social inclusion as well as intensify security awareness in the South East.