Senate keeps mum as controversy rocks NDDC 2019 budget

Sunday Aborisade

The National Assembly has yet to receive the 2019 budget proposal of the Niger Delta Development Commission even as the federal parliament plans to round off its legislative activities within the next four weeks.

Just like the usual practice by his predecessors since the agency was created, President Muhammadu Buhari has been submitting the NDDC budget to the National Assembly.

Investigations by our correspondent, however, revealed that the tradition changed when the agency was transferred from the Presidency to the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs.

Further checks also revealed that the intrigues and crisis rocking the agency over the interim management arrangement put in place by the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, is a major factor delaying the budget submission.

A source within the Senate Committee on NDDC who spoke on condition of anonymity explained that the agency’s 2019 budget proposal was supposed to have been presented to the National Assembly, processed and approved before July 31, 2019, when the commission’s 2018 budget expired.

The source said, “The power play among forces within the agency over the current interim management committee and those supporting the inauguration of the new board is causing the delay in the budget submission.

“The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs knows he cannot lead the interim management committee to come here and present the NDDC budget.

“As far as we are concerned, a new board has been approved by the Senate since November 5, based on the request by Mr President and that is the body we know, which we would relate with.”

The source further said, “I wonder why President Muhammadu Buhari has yet to act on the confirmation of the NDDC board nominees, especially since the Senate has declared that the interim committee should allow the new board to take over the activities of the agency.

“Already, the development is generating serious concerns among stakeholders in the Niger Delta.”

Repeated calls to the Chairman, Senate Committee on the NDDC, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi, and the spokesperson for the upper chamber, Godiya Akwashiki, to get the Senate’s reaction to the development failed on Saturday.

Neither Nwaoboshi nor Akwashiki had also yet to respond to text messages sent to their mobile phones as of the time of filing this report.

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