The Senate Presidency’s bid of Senator Godswill Akpabio may Hit the bricks wall as the Senate President, Dr. Ahmed Lawan, set up a seven-member ad-hoc committee to probe the Niger Delta Development Commission (NNDC) for embarking on expenditure amounting to N1.4 trillion without appropriation under his watch as minister.
The development, according to multiple reports was a purported plot to derail Akpabio’s bid to become the Senate President in the 10th Assembly.
Akpabio, was a former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs and the ministry went through a rough patch under his leadership. The National Working Committee of the All Progressives Congress had at the weekend nominated the former Akwa Ibom governor as its choice for Senate President.
However, the decision to probe activities of the NDDC, followed a motion by Senator Adamu Aliero (PDP, Kebbi) during consideration of a report by the Committee on Niger Delta on NDDC’s 2021, 2022 and 2023 budgets.
President Muhammadu Buhari had, earlier this year, asked the Senate to approve NDDC’s budgets for 2021, 2022 and 2023.
The request for approval came after the interventionist agency had spent the funds for the 2021 and 2022 financial years, totaling N1.4 trillion.
Buhari, in the proposal transmitted to the parliament, had explained that a total budget of N485.7 billion was proposed for the NDDC in 2021, N928.2 billion in 2022, and N876 billion in 2023.
The Senate consequently referred the budgets to its Committee on Niger Delta after scaling second reading.
The committee, chaired by Senator Bulus Amos (APC, Gombe), submitted its report on Tuesday and urged the Senate to approve the budget estimates.
However, Aliero faulted the recommendation of the committee.
He said it was a breach of the constitution for NDDC to carry out expenditure of the budget estimates without approval of the National Assembly.
Other senators, who raised concerns over the consideration of the budgets, were senators Seriake Dickson (PDP, Bayelsa) and Solomon Adeola (APC, Lagos).
Adeola said there was an urgent need to carefully look at the 2023 budget estimates of NDDC as clarifications and further information was required on figures presented on the budget.
Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, therefore, raised a panel to probe the agency’s financial book.
Lawan said the term of reference of the ad hoc committee was to investigate the financial activities of NDDC on the 2021 and 2022 budget estimates.
The committee, chaired by Senator Yusuf A. Yusuf (APC, Taraba), is to submit its report to the plenary in one week. Other members of the committee include: Seriake Dickson, Uche Ekwunife, Abdullahi Yahaya, Saidu Alkali, Adetunmbi Olubumi and Sadiq Sulaiman.
Meanwhile, Senate stood down consideration of the 2023 budget estimates of the NDDC, seeking further information and clarification on the figures contained in the proposal.
(Adopted from THISDAY)