NDDC Ag. MD undermines Senate on ‘illegal’ implementation of N80.88bn 2020 budget

January 26, 2020
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The Acting Managing Director of the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Dr. Joi Nunieh, may be undermining the  Senate of the Nigerian National Assembly in directing the implementation of the 2020 budget of the commission without approval of the Upper Chamber. This is coming few days National Daily Newspaper raised alarm over the seeming diversionary management of the NDDC funds by the Interim Management Committee to service political interests and patronage.

The IMC Acting Managing Director of NDDC, Dr. Joi Nunieh, had in a memo, dated January 15, 2020, mandated the Directorate of Planning, Research and Statistics to commence  consideration of budgetary implementation  requests  (Recurrent and Capital) from the various Directorates, Departments, Units and State Offices for the year 2020.

Dr. Nunieh had argued that President Muhammadu Buhari has signed the 2020 budget into law where the NDDC has budgetary allocation of N80,881,610,074. Perhaps, for this reason, the Ag. MD ignores the statutory duty to defend the commission’s budget before the Senate for legislative approval.

The Interim Management Committee Acting MD in the memo titled “Implementation of NDDC Budget” declared: “The Directorate of Planning, Research and Statistics is hereby directed to treat budgetary implementation requests (Recurrent and Capital) from the various Directorate, Departments, Units and State Offices for the year 2020.”

Dr. Nunieh justified his action with the reference: “Please recall that the President and Commander In-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari (GCFR), has signed into law the Federation’s 2020 Budget (Appropriation Act). Also, in the approved budget, the sum of N80,881,610,074 only has been appropriated to the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).”

The Acting MD appears to be undermining the fact that the Interim Management Committee of the NDDC was restrained by the Senate in November 2019 from defending the agency’s 2020 budget partly because of certain controversies, part of which include the nominees into the Board of NDDC submitted to the Senate by President Buhari for screening and confirmation, a process that the lawmakers completed within expected time frame; then, the circumstance of the emergence of the IMC members appointed by the Minister of Niger Delta, Godswill Akpabio, and the dissolution by fiat of the IMC appointed by the president. The Senate appeared to find the constitutional status of the interim management committee headed by Dr. Nunieh questionable, and perhaps, the qualification of the members  to stand before the Upper Chamber for budget defence was hazy.

More so, there were controversies over the continuous stay in office of the Interim Management Committee after the Senate has confirmed the nominations of the President for members of the NDDC Board.

Invariably, Dr. Nunieh may be drawing battle line with the Senate.

The IMC Acing MD maintained that the interventionist agency has the mandate for regional development in the Niger Delta, noting the peculiar harsh conditions of the zone.

“It is pertinent to state that the Commission is an Intervention Agency whose activities are predominantly in the Niger Delta Region with a peculiar and harsh geographical terrain and is greatly influenced by the weather conditions,” Dr. Nunieh insisted.

President Buhari communicated the 2020 Budget proposal of the NDDC to the National Assembly in November 2019. The Senate, however, restrained the Interim Management Committee members from defending the budget. There are indications that until the budget is defended by the commission as the constitution requires, the NDDC management may be acting unconstitutional in implementing such budget.

Meanwhile, Dr. Nunieh has instructed the Directorate of Planning, Research and Statistics to comply with his directive on the implementation of the commission’s yet to be approved 2020 budget.

The Minister of Niger Delta, Akpabio, may also be undermining the board appointments made by President Buhari who have been screened and confirmed by the Senate in sustaining the Interim Management Committee of the NDDC he appointed.

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