As the battle for the soul of Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, rages, Senator Magnus Abe, the immediate past lawmaker representing Rivers South East has described those criticizing the appointment of Dr Joi Nunieh led interim Committee as “irresponsible noise makers”.
Abe who is also a lawyer, and from the same Ogoni ethnic nationality with Joi Nunieh and rumoured to have influenced her nomination spoke in reaction to the controversies and the rejection of an interim Committee as an illegal contraption against NDDC Act by some groups.
Abe argued that President Muhammadu Buhari, by law, is the only person vested with the power to appoint any person into the Board and management of NDDC.
He advised those who may be aggrieved because their preferred persons were not appointed to take their grievances to the President.
“Why is the appointment of Nunieh different? This is not the first time such appointment of by the President was done.
Senator Abe expressed surprise about the media buzz on the appointment of Nunieh while, according to him, the focus should be on the fact that there has been sleaze going on in the Commission for which the President has ordered forensic audit to be done on its accounts from year 2000.
Speaking further on the seeming confusion, Kennedy Friday, an aide Senator Abe took to his Facebook timeline to argued that the role and capacity in which Nunieh is presently acting and performing does not require Senate confirmation.
He said “It was the President who appointed Gbene Dr Joi Nunieh as Acting MD of NDDC and gave her a clear mandate of action. Like the EFCC boss and others working in acting capacity, such appointments do not require the confirmation of the Senate.
Kennedy Friday who is also an Ogoni kinsman to Nunieh pointed out that there were two appointments for Gbene Dr Joi Nunieh in the space of few weeks.
According to him, first she was appointed as a member of the board of NDDC representing Rivers, and the second was as Acting MD of NDDC.
He noted that while the first required confirmation by the Senate (her confirmation has already been rejected), the second did not require any such confirmation.
He argued that as such, the discharge of her duties as Acting MD of NDDC is not in anyway impaired or endangered by the rejection of her nomination by the Senate as member representing Rivers State.
According to Abe’s aide “Finally, appointments in government come into life, and the tenure starts counting for tenured appointment when the “appointer” or the authority appointing swears-in the appointees, and not nominations that are screened and cleared by the Senate.”
The Senate had on Tuesday confirmed 15 out of the 16 nominees forwarded by President Muhammadu Buhari to the National Assembly for confirmation as board members of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
The nominees 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), and 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 upper chamber, however, rejected the nomination of Dr. Joy Yimebe Nunieh, as nominee representing Rivers State on the board.
Chairman, Senate Committee on NDDC, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi, in his presentation of the committee’s report, explained that the committee sent an invitation to the nominee twice to attend the screening exercise last week.
The lawmaker, however, told his colleagues that the nominee on both occasions refused to appear before the panel for screening.
Nwaoboshi also drew the attention of the upper chamber to the three-man Interim Management Committee to oversee the affairs of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
According to him, the nominee, Dr. Joy Yimebe Nunieh is Acting Managing Director of the Interim Committee.
The committee has Dr. Cairo Ojougboh as Acting Executive Director, Projects and Chief Ibanga Bassey Etang as the Acting Executive Director, Finance and Administration.
The upper chamber thereafter unanimously rejected the nomination of Nunieh over her refusal to appear before the NDDC panel for screening.
In his remarks, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, while speaking on the existence of the interim committee to oversee the NDDC said, “I think there’s no ambiguity in this matter. Mr. President sent to the Senate his request for us to confirm his nominees.
“As soon as they (nominees) are confirmed, I’m sure any other structure that exists now is vitiated.
I don’t think we have anything to worry about, because this is something that is clearly established by the law.”
Lawan tasked the Senate Committee on NDDC on the need to properly oversight the commission as soon as the new board takes over the management of the agency.
“The NDDC is a special case. We recall that the President had cause to ask for a total probe of what happened with the finances of the NDDC.
“We are supposed to continually oversight wherever public funds are put out for the development of the country,” Lawan added.