“As soon as they (nominees) are confirmed, I’m sure any other structure that exists now is vitiated.” – Senator Lawan)
By Ngozi Ekhator
The Senate on Tuesday confirmed fifteen out of the sixteen nominees forwarded by President Muhammadu Buhari to the National Assembly for confirmation as board members of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
The nominees confirmed by the Senate are: Dr. Pius Odubu (Edo), Chairman; Bernard Okumagba (Delta), Managing Director; Engr. Otobong Ndem (Akwa-Ibom), Executive Director (Projects); Maxwell Oko (Bayelsa), Executive Director, Finance and Admin; Jones Erue (Delta), and Chief Victor Ekhator (Edo).
Others are: Nwogu N. Nwogu (Abia), Theordore Allison (Bayelsa), Victor Antai (Akwa-Ibom), Maurice Effiwatt (Cross River), Olugbenga Edema (Ondo), Hon. Uchegbu Chidiebere Kyrian (Imo), Aisha Murtala Muhammed (Kano), Shuaibu Ardo Zubairu (Adamawa), and Ambassador Abdullahi Bage (Nasarawa).
The upper chamber however rejected the nomination of Dr. Joy Yimebe Nunieh, as nominee representing Rivers State on the board.
Chairman, Senate Committee on NDDC, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi, in his presentation of the committee’s report, explained that the committee sent an invitation to the nominee twice to attend the screening exercise last week.
The lawmaker, however, told his colleagues on the floor that the nominee on both occasions refused to appear before the panel for screening.
Nwaoboshi drew the attention of the upper chamber to the three-man Interim Management Committee to oversee the affairs of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
According to him, the nominee, Dr. Joy Yimebe Nunieh is Acting Managing Director of the Interim Committee.
The committee has Dr. Cairo Ojougboh as Acting Executive Director, Projects and Chief Ibanga Bassey Etang as the Acting Executive Director, Finance and Administration.
The upper chamber, in a committee of the whole, thereafter unanimously rejected the nomination of Nunieh as nominee representing Rivers State over his refusal to appear before the NDDC panel for screening.
In his remarks, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, while speaking on the existence of the interim committee to oversee the NDDC said, “I think there’s no ambiguity in this matter. Mr. President sent to the Senate his request for us to confirm his nominees.
“As soon as they (nominees) are confirmed, I’m sure any other structure that exists now is vitiated.
“I don’t think we have anything to worry about, because this is something that is clearly established by the law.”
Lawan tasked the Senate Committee on NDDC on the need to properly oversight the commission as soon as the new board takes over the management of the agency.
“The NDDC is a special case. We recall that the President had cause to ask for a total probe of what happened with the finances of the NDDC.
“We are supposed to continually oversight wherever public funds are put out for the development of the country,” Lawan added.
Recall that the upper chamber had last week Tuesday received a formal request from President Muhammadu Buhari for the confirmation of their appointments.
The Senate on Tuesday confirmed the appointment of Honourable Justice J. T. Tsoho as the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court of Nigeria; and Hon. Justice Benedict Bakwaph Kanyip as the President of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria.
The upper chamber also on Tuesday resolved to send a delegation to condole with the families of Tafawa Balewa and Mobolaji Johnson over the death of Hajiya Jummai Tafawa Balewa and Brigadier General Mobolaji Johnson, respectively.
The decision was reached after a one minute silence was held in honour of the deceased following two motions brought to the floor by Senators Muhammad Bulkchuwa (APC, Bauchi North) and Oluremi Tinubu (APC, Lagos Central), respectively.
Hajiya Jummai Tafawa Balewa was the last surviving wife of Nigeria’s first Prime Minister, Late Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa; while Brigadier Mobolaji Johnson was the first Military Governor of Lagos State from May 1967 to July 1975.
The Senate, in a motion, also urged the Federal Government to immortalise Hajiya Jummai Tafawa Balewa.