Clarification was yesterday made available to the Senate on alleged illegal extension of the present board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

The Senate had earlier mandated its committee on NDDC to carry out investigation on the allegation made by Senator Emmanuel Paulker (PDP Bayelsa Central).

Paulker in the allegation made via a motion moved to that effect on the floor of the Senate yesterday, declared that contrary to the clear provisions of Section 5 (3) of the NDDC Act, the tenure of the present board of the commission has been illegally extended to four years by the immediate past Acting Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Dr. Habiba Muda Lawal.

He added that “Section 5(2) of the Act dictates that the Board headed by Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba, SAN who serves out the remainder of the term of the board chaired by Senator Bassey Henshaw will terminate in December 2017.”

A submission that made the Senate to mandate its committee on NDDC to liase with the new Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, with a view to unraveling the facts of the matter.

But the SGF in a letter signed by a permanent secretary, Dayo Apata and made available yesterday, denied any tenure elongation for the board members as alleged by Senator Paulker.

In the letter titled: “Re: Clarification on the tenure of the governing board of NDDC”, and obtained by journalists declared that Ndoma-Egba headed board is not a continuation of the dissolved one headed by Bassey Henshaw.

The letter reads in part: “Section 5(2) of the act refers to a situation where a vacancy occurs as a result of any of the provisions of section 5(1) of the act as opposed to when the entire board is dissolved.  In this case, the previous board was dissolved and its tenure extinguished

“Dissolution of the board cannot be categorised as a vacancy under the act. Dissolution signifies total extinguishment of the board, it simply ceases to exist and there cannot be any remainder 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. Therefore the letters of appointment stating that they were to complete the remainder of the tenure of the previous board is of no effect as the words   in a letter cannot override the express provisions of an act”.

Meanwhile, one of the Senators who spoke after the resolution to resolve the issue with the SGF said that the intervention of the Senate President must have been informed by the need to promote the new found rapport between the Executive and the Legislature.

He pointed out that the visit of the new SGF to the leadership of the National Assembly was meant 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, the NDDC leadership should focus on its present commitment to develop the region and make the agency responsible.

 

Michael Jegede

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