By Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, South-South
PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari’s intervention, last year, was what tempered the National Assembly that was on collision course with both the Minister of Niger Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio and Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, over alleged fraud and non-adherence to due process, a senator has said.
The Senator said that President Buhari pleaded with the leadership of the National Assembly to relax its insistence on inauguration of governing board of NDDC and allow forensic auditors to finish their auditing before inauguration of the board.
The Senate had, November, last year, ruled the Interim Management Committee, IMC, of NDDC as illegal, insisting that only the chairman and members of approved board of NDDC were authorized by law to defend budget of the commission and appear before it to handle any other matter on behalf of the commission.
An informed source confided in Saturday Vanguard: “The president also prevailed on NASS leadership to pass the NDDC 2020 budget, which was pending then because the lawmakers refused to listen to the then IMC headed by Prof Daniel Pondei. If you noticed, NDDC’s 2020 budget was passed just 10 days to the ending of 2020 under the leadership of the new interim administrator, Mr. Akwa. It expires the 31st of this month (March).”
Also, the Interim Administrator of NDDC, Mr. Effiong Akwa, soon after his appointment, December, last year, went behind closed doors to apologize to the National Assembly for all that transpired between the lawmakers and the commission before he came on board.
However, many Niger-Deltans, unaware of the undertakings, suspected the lawmakers had compromised their position on inauguration of NDDC governing board and due process in the commission, and did not hide their emotions when they saw the two chairmen of the National Assembly Committees on Niger Delta relating very closely with Senator Akpabio and NDDC, lately.
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South-South leader, Senator Edwin Clark, who expressed shock at what he described as suspicious coalition between the National Assembly, Minister of Niger Delta and NDDC, said: “People are already wondering how long the forensic auditing will take place because, today, there is an unholy alliance between two chairmen of the National Assembly Committees on Niger Delta, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi and Hon Olubunmi Tunji- Ojo.”
“These were the people fighting Senator Akpabio, now he is their friend, Akpabio who was disgraced the other day in the House is now a friend of the House, they now praise the very man they were condemning. I saw them, two of the lawmakers on television praising the minister at the commissioning of NDDC headquarters, what type of hypocrisy is this? What type of Nigerians we have. These are people who should live behind the bars. The people should be vigilant, they have congregated again, NASS people will come there and take all the money,” he feared.
NASS didn’t compromise
Chairman, Senate Committee on Niger Delta, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi, representing Delta North Senatorial District, who spoke to Saturday Vanguard, cleared the air on the new pact between the Senate, Akpabio and NDDC, saying there was no settlement on the part of lawmakers.
“I do not understand what people mean by new found alliance between the Minister of Niger Delta and the National Assembly, for me, there is nothing called alliance or no alliance.
“The President of Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, appealed to the leadership of the National Assembly that there is need to complete the forensic audit to enable the board come in and take its position.
“The Senate for example, our position is that we want the board to be inaugurated, that is what the law says. The law is that the board shall control the affairs of the Commission and the Senate took a firm stand. That is where we stand, that the board is the proper body to control the affairs of NDDC, we have not shifted from that position.