The House of Representatives Committee on Niger Delta Development Commission has threatened to move against the new management of the regional intervention body should it misuse or abuse public resources.
The Chairman of the House Committee on NDDC, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, issued the warning in Abuja on Thursday as the management of the commission defended its 2021, 2022 and 2023 budgetary proposals before the lawmakers.
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The Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, NDDC, Samuel Ogbuku, had appeared before the committee to defend the budgetary estimates of the three years totalling N2.29tn.
Tunji-Ojo noted that it was the responsibility of the committee to scrutinise every detail of the proposals “to ensure that we are making the best decisions for the organisation, the people of the Niger Delta region and its stakeholders.”
“It is pertinent to state that as we would be analysing the proposals, our ultimate goal is to ensure that they are realistic, achievable and, most importantly, in the best interest of all concerned,” he added.
The chairman said, “May I say this very clearly: it is my desire and my hope that the budgets being considered, when passed, would be made to work for the people of the Niger Delta region. We know the needs of the region and I think it is time the NDDC must play its role. The role of the NDDC is not just to provide succour but also to provide sustainability, development and to reshape the destiny of the Niger Delta region.
“I sincerely hope and I pray – because this is your first budget as a board – that under this board, you will go back, update your Niger Delta development plan and implement critical projects that will add value to the lives of our people. The people of the Niger Delta are in need of hope – renewed hope – and we think the actualisation of the renewed hope would be provided by this board.
“I plead with you, as much as we are ready to work with you, we are also ready to stand against you if necessary. We have to take note of that. For those that are familiar with this committee under my leadership, it is a fact that when we need to stand, we stand; and when we need to cooperate, we cooperate. We will not cooperate with you if the interest of the region is not being protected.”
Ogbuku, in his presentation, noted that “a lot has happened since the approval of NDDC 2020 budget that made us not able to present our budgets,” adding that, “nevertheless we are here today to present the three proposed budgets.”
Ogbuku noted that the NDDC complied with the provisions of the NDDC Act 2000 as it pertains to submission of its budget for transmission to the National Assembly. “We have consistently submitted our budgets before September 30th in the preceding years to the supervising minister,” he added.
The NDDC CEO recalled that the present management was inaugurated on January 4, 2023, by the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Okon Umana, on behalf of the President Muhammadu Buhari.
Ogbuku also recalled that the 2020 budget with total estimates of N453.2bn, which was codenamed ‘Budget of Realignment’, was passed into law by the National Assembly in December 2020