Senate President, Abubakar Bukola Saraki, Wednesday declared that the era of Executive, Legislature face off is over.
Saraki who made the declaration when he ruled on the a motion alleging irregularity in the renewal of the tenure of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) board further insisted that “the days of balderdash was over”
Following the intervention of Saraki and Senate leader, Senator Ahmed Lawan, the Senate resolved to mandate its committee on NDDC to take up the matter with the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, to articulate amicable resolution of the board tenure extension.
Senator Emmanuel Paulker (Bayelsa Central) had in his motion entitled “The illegal extension of the tenure of the Board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC)” observed that the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) was established to tackle developmental issues affecting the Niger Delta.
He further noted that noted that it was in response to the age-long agitation of the people of the Niger Delta that had snowballed into militancy which disrupted oil production and affected our national economic interest that the Commission was established.
The Beyelsa central lawmaker said that the Commission consists of a Board made up of members drawn from the States of Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross-River, Delta, Edo, Imo, Ondo and Rivers.
He observed that Section 4 of the act states that the office of the Chairman shall rotate amongst member States of the Commission in alphabetical order.
He noted that the Chairmanship of the NDDC started with Abia State and has 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 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 will terminate 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 4 years by the immediate past Acting secretary to Government of the Federation, Dr. Habiba Muda Lawal.
He added that contravention of the NDDC Act portends grave danger to the relative peace we enjoy in the Niger Delta and prayed the Senate accordingly resolve to mandate the Committee on Niger Delta to investigate the illegal renewal of the tenure of the present Board of the Commission.
Hardly had Paulker concluded his submission than the Senate Leader, Lawan called for caution.
The Yobe North lawmaker said that he engaged the SGF to find out what happened.
Lawan said that 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 on his part said that the matter should be referred to the NDDC Committee to take up the matter with the SGF for resolution.
The Senate President who said that “the days of balderdash are over” noted that “in the spirit of new relations between the Executiive and the Legislature; the matter should be taken up with the SGF.
Former SGF, Babachir David Lawal had described the Senate as “talking balderdash” for indicting over grass cutting contract in the North East.
Findings showed that the resolution to take up the issue with the SGF following the intervention of the Saraki was informed by the need to promote the new found rapport between the Executive and the Legislature.
A source close to the Senate President recalled that the recent appointment of a new SGF occasioned the visit of the new SGF to the leadership of the National Assembly to improve and strengthen Executive-Legislature relationship.
The Senate leadership, he said, “may also have been moved to support the reform minded initiative of the present NDDC leadership. “
He noted that the matured handling of the motion by the Senate leadership had gone further to “underscore and demonstrate the determination of the Senate to support the core mandate of the NDDC as an interventionist agency.”
According to him, “on this the NDDC leadership on its part is required to focus in its present commitment to develop the region and make the agency responsible.”
A document made available to reporters marked “Re: Clarification on the tenure of the governing Board of the of NDDC” indicated various conditions a vacancy can occur in the NDDC governing board.
The document specifically said that “the previous Board of the NDDC was dissolved and its tenure extinguished.”
It added that “Dissolution of the Board cannot be categorized as a vacancy under the Act. Dissolution signifies total extinguishment of the Board, it simply ceases to exist, and therefore there cannot be any reminder 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.”