Senate on Wednesday intervened in the illegal extension of the present board of the Niger Delta Development Commission ( NDDC) by former Acting Secretary to the Government of the federation, Dr. Habiba Muda Lawal.
The tenure of the present board was expected to end by December 2017.
It was discovered that chairman of the board, Senator Victor Ndoma Egba was former Senate leader of the Senate also close associate of the Present senate leader Ahmad Lawan.
Our correspondent gathered that noting may come out of the Senate investigation due to personal relationship of the the chairman of the commission to some of the senators.
Paulker in the allegation made via a motion moved to that effect on the floor of the Senate yesterday, declared that contrary to the clear provisions of Section 5 (3) of the NDDC Act, the tenure of the present board of the commission has been illegally extended to four years by the immediate past Acting Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Dr. Habiba Muda Lawal.
He added 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 will terminate in December 2017.
Paulker said, ” the Commission consist of a Board made up of members drawn from the States of Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross-River, Delta, Edo, Imo, Ondo and Rivers;
“Observes that Section 4 of the act states that the office of the Chairman shall rotate amongst member States of the Commission in alphabetical order;
“Observes that the Chairmanship of the NDDC started with Abia State and has rotated in accordance with the Act up to Cross-River state now;
“Observes 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”;
“Observes 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;
“Observes further that Section 5 (3) 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 will terminate in December 2017;
“Notes that contrary to the clear provisions of Section 5 (3) of the N DPC Act, the tenure of. the Spresetnt Boafrcti If the Commission has been illegally extended to 4 years by the immediate past Acting ecre any 0 e Government of the Federation, Dr. Habiba Muda Lawal;
“Worried that contravention of the N DDC Act portends grave danger to the relative peace we enjoy in the Niger Delta.”
But the SGF in a swift action via a letter signed by a permanent secretary, Dayo Apata and forwarded to the committee yesterday , denied any tenure elongation for the board members as alleged by Senator Paulker.
In the letter titled : ” Re: Clarification on the tenure of the governing board of NDDC”, and obtained by journalists declared that Ndoma Egba headed board is not a continuation of the dissolved one headed by Bassey Henshaw .
The letter States : ” 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 extinguishment 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 .Therefore the letters of appointment stating that they were to complete the remainder of the tenure of the previous board is of effect as the wotds in a letter cannot override the express provisions of an act”.
While seconding the motion , Senate leader, Ahmad Lawan called for calm among his colleagues on this matter allowing the Senate Committee on Niger Delta to look into the matter.
He said, ” yesterday, I was with the SGF and others trying find out what happened. I appeal to all of us that since we have new SGF who wants to work with us, I will advice and move that we ask our committee on NDDC to liase with the office of the SGF who wants to look into the real issues so that we deal with it.”
Also in his remarks, The President of the Senate, Senator Abubakar Bukola Saraki also in his remarks, said, “yesterday, after the presentation of the budget, apart from SGF coming to thank us. He also took up the matter.
I think in spirit of our relationship that we are not here just to always antagonize the executive. The day of balderdash are over.
We have a new SGF and we must also show that. Let this matter be referred to the Senate Committee on NDDC.
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