Senate Bows to Pressure, Rejects Ajasin, Izunaso as NDDC Commissioners

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• Confirms Ndoma-Egba, Ekere, others
Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
The Senate on Tuesday took cognisance of the protracted protests which accompanied the nominations of Olatokunbo Ajasin (Ondo), Donatus Enyinnah (Abia State) and Osita Izunaso (Imo) as Commissioners of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and accordingly rejected them.

The trio were rejected in accordance with the recommendation of the Senate Committee on Niger Delta which had reported that their nominations violated the law which stipulates that NDDC commissioners should be chosen from oil producing areas.

President Muhammadu Buhari had made the nominations from communities outside the oil producing areas, a move which triggered vehement protests and rejection by affected communities.
The recommendation however, generated heated debate in the Senate as some senators hailed the recommendation while others criticised it, describing it as unnecessary.

While Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe (Abia South), warned those agitating for the confirmations of the three nominees against fueling the already tensed atmosphere of the Niger Delta, some senators claimed that the law only had the oil producing states in mind and not communities.

Among such senators was the Deputy Senate Leader, Bala Ibn N’Allah, who claimed that the constitutional designation of oil producing areas does not necessarily mean communities or local government areas where oil is explored but rather refers to the entire state which shares the membership of the Niger Delta.

Na’Allah added that the Constitution was careful not to include the natives of non-oil producing states in provisions on appointments of NDDC leaders by providing that members of the NDDC board must be constituted by oil producing states without clearly stating that such nominees must come from oil producing communities.

His position was supported by the Chief Whip, Olusola Adeyeye, who warned the Senate against setting a bad precedent by narrowing down the membership of the board of NDDC to only communities where oil is produced.

Therefore, he persuaded the Senate to clear the three nominees since they equally hail from oil producing states.
His position was also supported by Musa Kwankwaso (Kano Central), who argued that being a citizen of an oil producing state was enough for representation on NDDC board.
However, when the Senate put the matter to vote, the nominees were resoundingly rejected and hence, the names of Ajasin, Izunaso and Enyinnah were thrown out.

But the parliament confirmed other nominees such as Victor Ndoma-Egba Chairman and Nsima Udo Ekere Managing Director respectively.  Others confirmed by Senate as NDDC board members were Adjogbe Ajenakevwe Samuel (Delta),Mene Derek (Rivers), Brambaifa Nelson (Bayelsa), Frank Samuel George (Akwa Ibom), Sylvester Nsa (Cross River), Ogaga Ifowodo, (Delta), Uwuilekhue Saturday (Edo) and Harry Iboroma Dabibi (Rivers).
Also comfirmed were Benard Banfa (North-central), Yahaya Mohammed (North-east), Mustapha Dankadai (North-west), Igo Weli (Niger Delta Ministry), Mahmoud Isa-Dutse (Federal Ministry of Finance), and Abdul-Kazeem Bayero (Federal Ministry of Environment).

In a related development, the Senate yesterday began the screening of the chairman and commissioners of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) in accordance with Section 34 of the Electric Power Sector Reform Act, 2005.

The nominees are Prof. Akintunde Akinwande (South-west) as chairman; Sanusi Garba (North-west) as vice chairman; other commissioners are Nathan R. Shanti (North-east); Dr. Moses Arigu (North-central); Date C. Akpeneye (South-south); Prof. Frank Okafor (South-east); and Dr. Musiliu O. Oseni (South-west).
The nominees were referred to the Senate Committee on Power for the screening exercise.