Sacked NDDC Staff: Pondei, Other IMC Members Shun Senate Investigative Panel

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By Deji Elumoye

The embattled Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) on Monday failed to honour the invitation extended to it by the Senate Committee on Niger Delta Affairs investigating the alleged illegal sacking of some workers of the commission between February and May this year.

The Senator Peter Nwaoboshi-led committee could not proceed with the investigation of the reported sack of senior members of staff of NDDC due to the absence of the entire IMC members including the Acting Managing Director, Prof. Daniel Pondei.

Signs that the IMC members would not come before the committee emerged at about 12:30 pm when none of them was sighted at the room 022 venue of the planned investigative hearing at the Senate wing of the National Assembly.

Even the attempts made by the committee to ensure the appearance of the IMC members before it two hours after by shifting the sitting to 3:00pm failed, as none of them appeared at about 3:20 pm when the session resumed.

Worried about the development, the committee Chairman, Senator Nwaoboshi, asked the NDDC Director of Human Resources, Silas Anyanwu, to explain the absence of the management team.

In his explanation, Anyanwu revealed that Pondei and other IMC members were held back at the House of Representatives wing of the National Assembly where they were being engaged on similar investigation.

He said: “For the past two hours, I have been communicating with the MD and some other IMC members but information reaching me indicated that they are not allowed to leave the venue of similar investigation going on in the House of Representatives.”

However, Nwaoboshi punctured Anyawu’s explanation and reminded him that the Monday sitting was the third attempt to get the IMC members to respond to a series of petitions written against them by the sacked workers.

He wondered that “Even if the MD is held up in the House of Representatives, is there no person from the IMC who has the capacity to represent?”

Although Anyanwu attempted to make a presentation on behalf of the absentee MD, but withdrew when he was asked to sign the unsigned written submissions forwarded to the committee by the IMC.

At that point, the committee members quickly resolved that since Tuesday, July 14, is the day fixed for 2020 budget defence session for the commission, the issue of illegal sacking of staff will be taken as well.

The committee chairman therefore submitted that: “From the attitude and actions shown so far by the IMC on this investigation, there is no sign of seriousness or interest from them.

“Though because of our respect for our colleagues in the House of Representatives, this sitting will be adjourned till Tuesday which is even the earlier fixed day for the 2020 budget defence session for the commission.

“Before we adjourn, an erroneous impression must be corrected by saying that it is not this committee that petitioned against NDDC but affected staffers who alleged to have been illegally sacked from service of the commission.

“Petitions on such allegations have been forwarded to us and most of the affected staffers have made their presentations which must be responded to by the IMC.”

The sitting was thereafter adjourned till Tuesday, July 14 by 1.00pm.

The Senate had on the strength of a motion sponsored on May 5 by Senator George Sekibo over alleged financial recklessness and arbitrary sacking of staff in NDDC, mandated its Committee on Niger Delta Affairs to investigate the staff sacking aspect and assigned that of financial recklessness to an ad hoc committee.

While the ad hoc committee had carried out its own investigation on the alleged financial recklessness against the current Prof. Pondei-led IMC of NDDC, the Senate Committee on Niger Delta Affairs has not been able to get attention of the IMC members on the alleged illegal sacking of the staff of the commission.