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MNDA to blame for delay of NDDC 2019/2020 budget

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The Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs has been blamed for the delay in the submission of the 2019/2020 budget of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

The Guardian gathered from sources in the commission that the arm twisting of the Presidency by the Senate that it would not allow the interim management committee of the commission to defend the budget would have been averted if the ministry had acted expeditiously.

An official of the commission who pledged anonymity explained that contrary to stipulation that the NDDC 2019/2020 budget was prepared by the interim committee, it was rather prepared and submitted to the Ministry sometimes in April, but for inexplicable reasons it was not sent to the National Assembly till the interim management committee was set up.

“The NDDC has internal mechanism for preparation of budget. That was done and submitted since April to the former Minister of Niger Delta, whether he had his own challenges and he did not pass the budget to the Presidency for transmission to the National Assembly is what we cannot say. Even when Godswill Akpabio took over that budget was passed to him but no action was taken on it until the Senate started making this noise.”

He stated that the commission has been unable to pay contractors and other vendors that it was indebted to due to a resolution of the National Assembly that except for staff issues, there should be no payment from the NDDC coffers for any project.

“With the Senate position, we just hope that the President will be pressured to announce the inauguration of the board, otherwise, it has the capacity to deliver the process of budget passage or the passage of the budget without the NDDC component. We have a very messier situation in our hands and the people of Niger Delta. Development has been on recession for about a month,” he said.

Activities are currently at a low ebb at the NDDC headquarters in Port Harcourt due to the lingering crisis engineered by the face-off between the Presidency and Senate over the interim management committee.

It would be recalled that while the Senate was in the process of screening NDDC board nominees, the Presidency announced a three-man interim committee to oversee the affairs of the commission for the next six months.

NDDC board members already screened and confirmed by the Senate are: Dr. Pius Odubu (Edo), Chairman; Bernard Okumagba (Delta), Managing Director; Engr. Otobong Ndem (Akwa-Ibom), Executive Director (Projects); Maxwell Oko (Bayelsa), Executive Director, Finance and Admin; Jones Erue (Delta); Chief Victor Ekhator (Edo).

Others are: Nwogu N. Nwogu (Abia), Theordore Allison (Bayelsa), Victor Antai (Akwa-Ibom), Maurice Effiwatt (Cross River), Olugbenga Edema (Ondo), Hon. Uchegbu Chidiebere Kyrian (Imo), Aisha Murtala Muhammed (Kano), Shuaibu Ardo Zubairu (Adamawa), and Ambassador Abdullahi Bage (Nasarawa).

The Senate however could not confirm the acting managing director of the interim management of the NDDC, Dr Joi Y. Nunieh who had initially been nominated to represent Rivers, because she was not present for screening.


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