By Uche Amunike
New appointments have been announced in the red chambers as the Nigerian Senate confirms Onochie Lauretta as Chairman of the NigerDelta Development Commission (NDDC), with twelve other nominees as board members, Tuesday, during plenary.
As the Senate confirms Onochie as board Chairman, other nominees who would serve as members are Dimga Erugba (Abia), Emem Wills (Akwa Ibom), Dimaro Denyanbofa (Bayelsa), Oruk Duke (Cross River), Gbenga Edema (Ondo) and Elekwachi Dinkpa (Rivers).
Others are Mohammed Abubakar (Nasarawa), Sule-Iko Sani (Kebbi), Tahir Mamman (Adamawa), Samuel Ogbuku (Bayelsa) MD for a term of two years, Charles Airhiavbere (Edo) Director of Finance and Charles Ogunmola (Ondo) Director of Projects.
Two of the nominees were however stepped down for being absent at the screening exercise.
Recall that in November, President Buhari sent a list of 15 nominees to the Senate to confirm their appointments for the board of the NDDC. The Senate Committee on the Niger Delta screened 13, out of the 15 nominees as some members of the panel complained that Onochie and Charles Ogunmola from Ondo State, were not from oil-producing communities.
Three senators from Ondo State-Ajaru Boroffice (Ondo North), Nicholas Tofomowo ( Ondo South) and Ayo Akinuelure, also from Ondo South, sought for Ogunmola’s rejection on the grounds that he is not from an oil-producing community.
Mr Tofomowo decried the issue of senators ignoring the petition written by the Ondo senators, saying: ‘This report would have been very beautiful if the chairman had referred to our decision in Ondo State that the three senators declined to support the nomination. The whole world is watching us.’
The nominees were eventually confirmed in the committee of the whole.’
The Senate confirmed Onochie and the other members of the boards after considering the reports of Senate Committee of the Niger Delta. The Acting Chairman of the Committee, Bulus Amos, (APC Gombe South), stated that they were all qualified to make the NDDC governing board membership. He also asked that Pius Odubu and Anthony Okanne, who had already been confirmed, he stepped down as they refused to appear before the Senate committee for screening.
His words: ‘During the screening exercise, two of the nominees – Odudu and Okanne were absent and there was no information explaining their absence from Senator Babajide Omoworare, Senior Special Assistant to the president on National Assembly Matter’.
Senator Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa state extolled the president and hoped that a clause is added to the NDDC Act, so that in the future, presidents will nominate people from oil producing areas to be in charge of the commission.
The senate president, Ahmad Lawan, on his part, reminded all the nominees that the NDDC was an interventionist tool of the federal government which made it imperative for its original terms of reference to be achieved. He encouraged them to get to work promptly as there was so much to do.
His words: ‘I believe that from now, until when their tenure will elapse, they have a lot of work to do because NNDC, as we all know, is an interventionist institution created by government in 2000. And, of course, it was a sacrifice of the members of the National Assembly, especially those who are not from the Niger Delta, to ensure that there is peace, unity and fairness in the region’.