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NDDC Board: Senate Screens Odubu, Okumagba, others

Senate, Border Closure by FG Divides Senators
Red chambers of the Nigerian Senate

…Says number of abandoned Projects, Worrisome

…As Nominees Take a Bow and Go

…The new Board will Reposition, Change the Narrative of NDDC, Odubu

By Henry Umoru

THE Senate, Thursday screened the former Deputy Governor of Edo State, Dr. Pius Odubu as the Nominee for the position of Chairman,  Board of Niger Delta Development  Commission, NDDC.

Odubu who was first to appear before the Senate Committee on Niger Delta Affairs, was deputy to the National Chairman of All Progressives Congress, APC, Adams Oshiomhole when he was governor of Edo State.

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The Senator Peter Nwaoboshi, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Delta North led Senate Committee on Niger Delta Affairs also screened the nominee for the position of Managing Director, Bernard Okumagba from Delta State and other nominees.

Also screened were Otobong Ndem from Akwa Ibom, who was appointed the Executive Director, Projects and Maxwell Oko from Bayelsa as Executive Director, Finance and Administration.

With Odubu; Okumagba; Ndem; and Oko, Edo, Delta, Akwa Ibom and Bayelsa is having membets each on the board.

Meanwhile, members of the Committee however described the large number of abandoned projects of the NDDC across the Niger Delta region was worrisome, just as they urged the new board, when constituted to address the very serious problem by ensuring that all the projects are completed for the overall interest of the people of the region.

The Senators also urged the new board to engage the youth as part of moves to to eradicate youth restivessness, armed banditry, Kidnapping and other social vices, just as they were asked to change the image of the Commission which is not palatable.

North West representative, Aisha Murtala Muhammed, from Kano State, was not present for the screening, but Nwaoboshi announced that she was rescheduled for Monday, next week.

Odubu who was a member of the House of Representatives from 1999 to 2007 was asked to “take a bow and go” in line with the parliamentary tradition of the Senate to extend such courtesies to former members of the National Assembly nominated for appointment.

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But before he took a bow and left the venue, room 204, Odubu who told the Senators that the new board will be committed to working harmoniously with both the Senate and the House of Representatives, said that the new board would reposition and change the Narrative of the intervention agency,  NDDC.

Also when it was his turn, Chief Bernard Okumagba from Delta State was also asked to “take a bow and go” after both the Chairman of the Committee, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi and Senator James Manager, PDP, Delta South attested to his suitability for the job.

For Nwaoboshi, ” Okumagba is from a well known family in Delta State,  he is very humble, I have known him  for a very long time; he is very hard working, a very very perfect gentleman from Delta State and I can testify to his humility.”

On his part, Senator Manager who is Okumagba’s Senator said, “I know the Nominee very well, he is focused, straightforward, hardworking, a worthy son of Delta state; he is diligent and has a listening ear because this is the kind of person that we need at this point in time in NDDC, we need someone like him to be the Managing Director.

“The nominee is from Delta, the Chairman of the Committee is from Delta, Iam from Delta, the Deputy Chairman in the House of Representatives is from Delta, the tradition is very clear; I want to move that he takes a bow and Go.”

The tradition of take a bow came to play for all the Nominees  as they  were asked to take a bow and go shortly after each nominee was asked to introduce himself, then Senators from the State of the Nominee would speak, then asked to go and in the case of Nominees from North Central and North East, Chairman, Senate Committee on Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Senator Kabiru Gaya, APC, Kano South spoke for them and asked to go.

There was however a mild  drama at the venue of the screening when the nominee for the post of Executive Director Projects, Engr. Otobong Ndem (Akwa Ibom), appeared.

Trouble started when a member of the Committee and Chairman, Senate Committee on Public Accounts, Senator Matthew Urhoghide, PDP, Edo South picked holes in the curriculum vitae of Ndem.

Urhoghide who sought to know why there were discrepancies in the chronology of  the candidate’s educational progression,  said that from the CV before him, had school certificate in 2007, National Diploma in 1999 and Higher National Diploma In 2002.

Also in his remarks, Senator George Sekibo, PDP, Rivers East noted that the candidate also claimed to have obtained his masters degree in 2012 and Bachelor of Science degree in 2019.

He said, “As a former member of the House of Assembly, were you a Speaker or Deputy Speaker? If no, why did you prefix your name with the words ‘Right Honourable?’

On his part, Senator Rochas Okorocha, APC, Imo West reminded Committee members that since  Ndem had served in the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, he should be asked ‘to take bow and go’.

According to Okorocha, the Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi as a former member of the Rivers State House of Assembly, was accorded a similar courtesy during his screening by the Senate.

Subsequently, the suggestion by Okorocha  generated a heated argument among the committee members.

Senator James Manager who  engaged Okorocha in heated exchange for insisting that the nominee be asked to take a bow and go, said, “Senator Okorocha you are new here…you are new here.”

At this point, Nwaoboshi who  intervened to calm the situation, said that it is true that Amaechi was asked to take a bow and go as a former Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly.

The Chairman noted that the questions put to the nominee were serious issues that need clarification.

In his explanation, the nominee, Ndem said that there was an omission in his CV, just as he said that he had his first Ordinary Level Certificate in 1995 which was omitted and stated that the 2007 school certificate result was to enable him study law after his HND programme.

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He promised to avail the committee with the 1995 certificate before he was asked to take a bow and go.

Also screened were  Delta State representative, Prophet Jones Erue; Chief Victor Ekhator (Edo) and Nwogu Nwogu (Abia).

The committee also screened Theodore Allison, representing Bayelsa State, Victor Antai (Akwa Ibom); Maurice Effiwatt (Cross River); Olugbenga Elema (Ondo); Hon. Uchegbu Chidiebere Kyrian (Imo); Northeast representative, Ardo Zubairu from Adamawa state and Ambassador Abdullahi Bage from Nasarawa State to represent the North Central geopolitical zone.

The Committee however mandated its Chairman to screen the  remaining nominee on Monday.

Recall that the President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan, had on Tuesday read a letter from  President Buhari, requesting  for the confirmation of Odubu and  fifteen other members of the board.

A letter written by President Buhari dated 18th October, 2019 and entitled, “Confirmation of the Appointments of the Board of Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC”, was received 22 October  2019 by the Office of the President of the Senate.

The letter read, “In accordance  with the provisions of Section 2(2)(a) of the Niger Delta Development Commission, (NDDC) (Establishment ) Act, 2000, I write to forward for  confirmation by the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the under listed nominees for appointment into the NDDC Board, to occupy the positions indicated against  their names. The nominees’ CVs are attached herewith.

” While hoping that the Senate will consider and confirm the Nominees in the usual expeditious manner, please accept, Distinguished Senate President, the assurances of my highest consideration.”

According  to the letter, the board members are Bernard Okumagba from Delta State, who will serve as Managing Director; Otobong Ndem from Akwa Ibom, who was appointed the Executive Director, Projects and Maxwell Oko from Bayelsa as Executive Director, Finance and Administration

Others are Prophet  Jones Erue Delta State Representative; Chief Victor Ekhatar to represent Edo State; Dr. Joy Yimebe Nunieh for  Rivers State; Nwogu Nwogu, representing Abia State; Theodore Allison from Bayelsa State; Victor Antai from Akwa Ibom State; Maurice Effiwatt from Cross River State; Olugbenga Edema from Ondo State; Hon. Uchegbu Chidiebere  Kyrian from Imo State; and Aisha Murtala Muhammed from Kano State representing North-West area on the board.

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From Adamawa State to represent North- East on the NDDC board is Shuaibu  Ardo Zubairu and Ambassador  Abdullahi Bage from Nasarawa State representing North- Central.

Recall that the  President of the Senate, Senator Lawan immediately  referred the names to the Senator Peter Nwaoboshi, PDP, Delta North led Senate Committee on Niger Delta Affairs to carry out the screening and report back at Plenary in one week.

There was however no representative for South West as against the earlier list published by the President.

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