THE Senate on Tuesday sacked the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
It directed the governing board members, who were confirmed yesterday, to resume immediately after President Muhammadu Buhari is notified of their confirmation.
Senate President Ahmed Lawan said the NDDC Act does not recognise an IMC.
Also on Tuesday, the NDDC suspended the monthly payment of N1 billion to a consultant who collects money from International Oil Companies (IOCs) on its behalf.
Acting Managing Director Dr Gbene Joi Nunieh, said the Commission did not need middlemen to collect statutory funds due it.
She spoke during an interview with reporters at the NDDC headquarters in Port Harcourt.
The Senate confirmed a former Edo State Deputy Governor Dr Pius Odubu, as NDDC board chairman; Bernard Okumagba is the Managing Director.
Lawan said they should resume as replacement for the interim management committee, which Niger Delta Affairs Minister Godswill Akpabio set up. The IMC’s tenure was to last for six months.
Senators Ike Ekweremadu and Enyinnaya Abaribe noted that the interim management committee was established while the confirmation was pending.
Lawan said: “With the completion of this process, I am sure that any other structure that exists now (in the NDDC) is vitiated. I don’t think we have anything to worry about because this is one thing that is established by the law.
“I want to urge the committee on NDDC that after this new management takes over, we need to do proper oversight. We recall that the President had a course to ask for a total probe of what happened to the finances of the NDDC.
“This is not an indictment of us, but I think we are supposed to worry because we are supposed to continuously oversight wherever public funds are put for the development of our people.
“So, the committee on the NDDC has a lot of work to do. You must make sure that whatever is budgeted is prudently, effectively and efficiently put in to use. I believe that in the next few days, we will communicate to Mr President the result of our confirmation,” he said.
The nominees’ confirmation followed the report of the Senator Peter Nwaoboshi-led Senate Committee on Niger Delta Affairs, which screened them.
Lawan urged the appointees to ensure that the people of Niger Delta get value for their money.
The nominees are Dr Odubu (Edo), Okumagba (Delta), Executive Director Projects Otobong Ndem (Akwa Ibom), Executive Director Finance and Administration Maxwell Okoh (Bayelsa), Prophet Jones Erue (Delta State representative), Chief Victor Ekhatar (Edo) and Nwogu Nwogu (Abia).
Others are Theodore A. Allison (Bayelsa), Victor Antai (Akwa Ibom), Maurice Effiwatt (Cross River), Olugbenga Elema (Ondo), Uchegbu Kyrian (Imo), Aisha Murtala Muhammed (Kano, Northwest Representative), Ardo Zubairu (Adamawa, Northeast Representative) and Badmus Mutalib (Lagos, Southwest Representative).
The Senate, however, did not confirm Rivers State representative, Dr Nunieh.
Senator Nwaoboshi said she did not appear for screening.
Addressing newsmen, Nunieh said her desk was overflowing with payments requests, even from companies belonging to one individual.
She asked: “How can someone have 87 companies waiting for payment?”
Nunieh said: “We have a consulting firm engaged as a collection agent. We have another company that also collects three per cent whenever money is paid by the IOCs.
“We don’t need a middleman to collect 3 per cent for gas. The money should just be paid into NDDC accounts with the CBN.”
According to him, political interference was hampering NDDC’s progress.
She said: “That is why I have suspended the contract of a collection agent. We are no longer going to pay anyone N1 billion every month. That is wicked.
“That money can put mono pumps in rural communities in the Niger Delta. It can buy books and set up primary health centres. The three per cent for a consulting firm is over. That is why we are under pressure. But I laugh because those who live in glass houses should never throw stones.”
Nunieh called on Niger Deltans to stand up to protect their region. According to her, “what is happening is very embarrassing. We must all get up and know that these people have taken our commonwealth.”
The NDDC boss said about 57 contractors had gone back to work since the interim management came on board.
Her words; “We have about 57 contractors that have gone back to site. I am encouraging everyone to go back to site so that things will be done properly. Those that execute their contracts will be paid.”
Nunieh said although the NDDC Act is silent on the Interim Management Committee, the President had the right to set up the body.
She said NDDC would make sure that everything runs smoothly in the course of the forensic audit ordered by the President.