Senate Confirms NDDC Board Nominees

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Deji Elumoye in Abuja

Senate yesterday confirmed the nomination of 15 members of the governing board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), rejecting, however, one other nominee, Dr. Joy Nunieh.

The upper legislative chamber also confirmed the nominations of a new Chief Judge for the Federal High Court and President of the National Industrial Court (NIC).

Nunieh, a nominee from Rivers State, was declined confirmation by the Senate due to her failure to appear for screening before the Senate committee on Niger Delta, which screened the nominees last week.

This was sequel to the presentation of the report of the Senate Committee on Niger Delta which recommended the rejection of the nominee out of the 16 nominees screened by the committee for the Commission’s board.

The committee on page 18 of its 19-page report stated that “Dr. Nunieh, representing Rivers State on the Governing Board of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), was absent and could not be screened; her nomination is therefore not recommended for confirmation.”

After the presentation of the report at the plenary by the committee Chairman, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi, the Senate at its committee of the ‘whole’ considered the report before confirming the nominees and rejecting the only nominee that failed to appear before the Senate for screening.

The confirmed nominees are former Deputy Governor of Edo State, Dr. Pius Odubu, Chairman; Bernard Okumagba (Delta), Managing Director; Otobong Ndem (Akwa Ibom), Executive Director of Projects; Maxwell Oko (Bayelsa), Executive Director of Finance and Administration; Jones Erue (Delta); Victor Ekhator (Edo); Nwogu N Nwogu (Abia) and Theodore Allison (Bayelsa).

Others are Victor Antai (Akwa Ibom); Maurice Effiwat (Cross River); Olugbenga Edema (Ondo); Uchegbu Kyrian (Imo); Aisha Muhammed (North West); Shuaibu Zubairu (North East) and Abdullahu Bage (North Central).

In his remarks, the Senate President, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, while commenting on the existence of an interim committee overseeing the NDDC, said: “I think there’s no ambiguity in this matter. The 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 oversee 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 over seeing wherever public funds are put out for the development of the country,” Lawan added.

On the existence of an interim management committee in NDDC, he said: “There is an interim committee in place and this is more like sabotaging the Senate which has the constitutional right to approve appointments. It is not acceptable for anybody to set up interim committee. We should respect the right of other arms of government and not try to sabotage it.”

President Muhammadu Buhari had in a letter to the Senate President, Lawan, asked the Senate to confirm the nomination of a 16-man board for the NDDC.
The two-paragraph letter dated October 18 but read at plenary on October 29 by Lawan, read in part: “In accordance with the provision 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 Senate also yesterday confirmed the appointment of Justice J. T. Tosho as the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court of Nigeria, and Justice Benedict Bakwaph Kanyip as the President of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria.
This was sequel to the presentation of the Senator Opeyemi Bamidele-led Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters that screened the two judge-nominees last Monday.

The upper chamber also yesterday 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 and Oluremi Tinubu respectively.

Hajiya Jummai Tafawa Balewa was the last surviving wife of Nigerian 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.