There may be an imminent clash between the Presidency and the Senate over the status of the newly confirmed board of the Niger Delta Development Commission.
The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, had consistently insisted that with the approval of the Senate on November 5, the approved board has become the authentic authorities in charge of the NDDC.
Lawan had also said the Interim Committee set up by the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Goodwill Akpabio, had seized to exist with the confirmation of the Dr. Pius Odubu-led board.
He repeated the same thing on Tuesday when President Muhammadu Buhari sent both the 2019 and 2020 budget proposals of the agency to the National Assembly for consideration and approval.
The President in the covering letter dated November 21, and received by the leadership of the National Assembly on Monday, explained that he has sent the 2019 and 2020 budget estimates of the agency for the approval of the federal lawmakers.
The letter, read at plenary by Lawan, states, “Submission of 2019 and 2020 Budget Estimates of the Niger Delta Development Commission.
“Pursuant to Section 18(1) of the Niger Delta Development Commission (Establishment) Act, I forward herewith, the 2019 and 2020 Budget Estimates of the Niger Delta Development Commission, for the kind consideration and passage by the Senate.
“While I trust that the Senate will consider this request in the usual expeditious manner, please accept, Distinguished Senate President, the assurances of my highest consideration.”
The expired 2018 budget of N346. 5bn of the agency had N2.883bn as Capital Expenditure, while N311.371bn was approved for development projects.
The sum of N19.521bn was for Personnel Cost, while N12. 737bn was for Overhead Expenditure.
Similarly, in 2017, the NDDC got a total of N364bn as its annual budget out of which N329.850bn was approved for capital projects.
Meanwhile, the Senate President on Thursday, referred the consideration of the budgets to the Committee on NDDC.
He specifically told the panel to work strictly with the new board approved by the Senate.
He said, “Please make sure you deal directly with the board of the NDDC that the Senate approved.”
Investigations by our correspondent, however, revealed that the interim management team which Akpabio inaugurated, on the orders of the Presidency is still controlling the affairs of the agency.
The NDDC panel is expected to start work on the document next week.
Nigerians are waiting to see whether the Senate would interface with the board not yet inaugurated or decide to relate with the Akpabio’s interim team, which it has rejected.