News Politics

Senate refers NDDC board extension row to SGF

Senate President Bukola Saraki yesterday declared that the era of Executive/ Legislature face-off is over.

Saraki stated this while ruling on a motion alleging the irregularity in the renewal of the tenure of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) board members.

He declared: “The days of balderdash are over. It was in reference to the comment by sacked Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) Babachir David Lawal, who said the Senate was “talking balderdash” when he was summoned over the corruption allegations against him.

The new SGF Boss Mustapha has visited the leadership of the National Assembly to solicit cooperation.

Following the intervention of Saraki and Senate leader Ahmed Lawan, the Senate resolved to mandate its committee on NDDC to take up the matter with the SGF to articulate an amicable resolution of the board’s tenure extension.

Senator Emmanuel Paulker (Bayelsa Central)  in his motion entitled: “The illegal extension of the tenure of the Board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC)”  observed that the NDDC was established to tackle developmental issues affecting the Niger Delta.

He observed that Section 4 of the Act states that the office of the Chairman shall rotate among member States of the Commission in alphabetical order.

He noted that the Chairmanship of the NDDC started with Abia State and had rotated in accordance with the Act up to Cross-River state now.

Paulker observed that the NDDC Act also states that “where a vacancy occurs in the membership board it shall be filled by the appointment of a successor to hold office for the remainder of the term of his predecessor, so however, that the successor shall represent the same interest and shall be appointed by the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces subject to the confirmation of the Senate in consultation with the House of Representatives.”

He noted that the Board headed by Senator Victor Ndoma Egba, SAN was appointed by the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces to replace the one headed by Senator Bassey Henshaw.

He observed further that Section 5 (2) of the Act dictates that the Board headed by Senator Victor Ndoma Egba, SAN serves out the remainder of the term of the board chaired by Senator Bassey Henshaw would terminates in December 2017.

He noted that contrary to the clear provisions of Section 5 (2) of the N DPC Act, the tenure of the present board of the Commission has been illegally extended to four years by the immediate past Acting Secretary of the Government of the Federation, Dr. Habiba Muda Lawal.

Hardly had Paulker concluded his submission than Senate Leader Lawan called for caution.

Lawan said since the new SGF had shown sufficient inclination to work with the National Assembly, he should be given the benefit of the doubt to resolve the issue.

Saraki said the matter should be referred to the NDDC Committee to take up the matter with the SGF for resolution.

In a swift reaction, the SGF said in a letter signed by a  Permanent Secretary Mr Dayo Apata, titled: “Re: Clarification on the Tenure of the Governing Board of the NDDC”, that the Ndoma Egba-headed board is not a continuation of the dissolved one headed by Bassey Henshaw.

“Section 5(2) of the act refers to a situation where a vacancy occurs as a result of any of the provisions of section 5(1) of the act as opposed to when the entire board is dissolved.  In this case, the previous board was dissolved and its tenure extinguished.

“Dissolution of the board cannot be categorised as a vacancy under the act. Dissolution signifies total extinguishing of the board; it simply ceases to exist and there cannot be any remainder of any term which a successor is expected to complete.

“There has to be a fresh composition of the board for a fresh term of four years.”

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