Sen, Dr. Ahmad Lawan
By Raphael Ekpang
The Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has on Thursday insisted that it will recognize only the board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), whose names were forwarded to the senate for screening and confirmation.
The position of the senate comes as a result of the perceived confusion on which of the board (interim or the yet-to-be inaugurated Board approved by the senate) the Senate will interface with in the defense of the Commission’s 2020 budget.
However, while briefing journalists in Abuja on Thursday, the Spokesman of the Senate, Godiya Akwashiki declared that “there was no confusion” as the laws establishing the commission already explicitly made it clear on how the Board of the Commission can be constituted. He stated that both the Senate and President Muhammadu Buhari were law abiding and would not do anything that will infringe on the constitution of the federal Republic of Nigeria.
“There is no confusion in the NDDC, section 2 (2a) of the law establishing the NDDC says explicitly states that the Chairman and other members of the board, shall be appointed by the President, subject to the confirmation of the Senate in consultation with the House of Representatives.
“The president sent his nominees…And the senate has done the needful and justice to the nominees [by duly screening and confirming them in line with extant laws].”
Making further clarifications on how the budget of the commission will be scrutinized in line with the extant fiscal laws, Senator Akwashike said that section 18(1) of the NDDC act also have taken care of the issue.
“Section 18 (1) of the act establishing the NDDC empowers the President or the Board through the President to submit to the National Assembly estimate of proposal for their fiscal year to the National Assembly.
“And this is why the President of the Senate at plenary today directed the Senate Committee on Niger Delta Development Commission to interface with the board approved by the senate and subsequently revert to the senate,” Senator Akwashiki clarified.
“So today we have confirmed the nominees of Mr. President in line with the act establishing the NDDC. He has sent the nominees to the senate already and we have confirmed them, our own is to communicate with Mr. President whether we cleared them or not of which we have cleared 15 of them except one person who refused to show-up.
“The resolution of the senate has been sent to Mr. President; therefore, it is not our responsibility to inaugurate them. Meanwhile, today Mr. president has sent the proposal of the NDDC to the senate that is why we’ve referred it to the committee on Niger Delta to invite whoever is coming for the budget defence, and the senate president Dr. Ahmad Lawan has said categorically that the committee should only deal with the people that has been cleared by the senate because we are the law makers.
He noted further that if they entertain any other person outside the people they have confirmed, tomorrow somebody can just wake up and say he is a care taker or the MD of the NDDC.
However, he said that the issue of caretaker or no caretaker is not a problem to the senate because the senate is doing exactly what the law says, as such they can only act when during the budget defence another group of persons not known to them force themselves to the national assembly with the intention to cause mayhem, at that stage the senate will rise to the occasion.
On the letter of request for borrowing from president Buhari read on the floor of the senate on Thursday, he said though similar request was made by the president to the 8th assembly and was rejected on the bases that the letter was not accorded with details of the borrowing.
But, he insisted that the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria gives the President the right under the act establishing NDDC to write to the national assembly to request for approval whenever he wants to borrow for any purpose that is of the betterment of the people of the NDDC or Nigeria as a whole.
“So that request that was made to the 8th assembly and was rejected, I want to believe the life of the 8th assembly has expired, this is entirely another senate or another assembly so, I don’t want to discuss that, hence whether this one came with the details or not, I want to urged all of you to exercise patient when we get there you will know whether it came with the details or it did not come with the details, because we are going to discuss it.
“They just read at the plenary that there is a request for so, so and so, definitely we are going to set aside a day to deliberate on the request of Mr. President. This is something that will be discussed by the entire senators and agree and send the resolutions by the senate to the president,” Sen. Akwashiki said
It will be recalled that the senate has on November 5, 2019 confirmed Mr. Pius Odubu as the chairman of the NDDC and fourteen others.
Meanwhile, Sen. Akwashiki also insisted that the insinuations that the Hate Speech bill was a tool for president Buhari’s third term agenda was totally fouls, stressing that Nigeria has no provision for third term in her constitution and if anybody wants that they must first amend the constitution before anything else follows.
According to him, people should stop parading such falsehood because there is no how the senate can embark on constitution amendment in order to pave way for third term agenda of Mr. President who might not be thinking of such because he is aware that there is no provision for that in our constitution, stressing that the senate is made up of people with impeccable characters.