Dickson raises concerns over illegality of passing NDDC’s 2020 budget without board
Newly sworn in representative of Bayelsa West Senatorial District, Seriake Dickson has raised concerns over the illegality of approving the 2020 budget for Sole Administrator of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) not known to the law establishing the commission.
Speaking during consideration of the budget at plenary yesterday, Dickson said they were in a dilemma over the budget as there was presently no board for the NDDC, saying however, that the lawmakers were in a position to pass the bill for the sake of the people.
Dickson also asked the duration the Sole Administrator would stay in office since the position was unknown to the NDDC Act, adding: “Secondly, there is no indication as to how soon the President will exercise his power under the NDDC Act in making the recommendation.
“There is no indication whether the budget we are now being told to pass will be implemented by the Sole Administrator, who is unknown to the laws of the country, the NDDC Act and the Senate, but we being made to consider and pass the budget.”
He argued that the senators would need to add a caveat that when the budget is passed, it should not be implemented beyond the normal recurrent expenses until the NDDC Act was complied with.
“We would not want a situation where we pass the budget then one Sole Administrator unknown to the law and whose capacity we can’t access will do whatever he likes. We cannot hold him responsible because he is not part of the creation of the law.”
“We should add a caveat that the capital component of the budget should not be implemented by the Sole Administrator and that it should be done by a board properly constituted according to law,” he added.
He argued that the National Assembly more than any other institution had a duty to guard and guide the independence of the operation of the NDDC Act, adding: “I say so because when I was Governor of Bayelsa and Chairman, South-South Governors Forum, we met the President and supported the need for the forensic audit for effective operation of the NDDC board.
“Now we have a situation where instead of the board as stipulated by the act, the President constituted an Interim Management Committee (IMC) and that is why I am thanking the President and by extension, the National Assembly for doing what is right.”
Responding, President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan, said it was true the Sole Administrator was not known to the law just like the IMC, saying: “We suspended any interaction with the IMC and we are caught in between the devil and the deep blue sea and the Niger Delta people with all the challenges there.”