The Senate and the House of Representatives are now at loggerheads over the screening and confirmation of the nominees of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu into the board and management of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
Already, the House of Representatives has halted the inauguration of the board and management of the commission screened and cleared by the Senate on Wednesday.
The Senate had, after the confirmation of the nominees, with Mr. Sam Ogboku as managing director and Mr. Chiedu Ibie as chairman of the board, transmitted a letter to the Presidency to that effect.
The Senate had given a nod to the Presidency to inaugurate the appointees as a prelude to their resumption of their official engagements.
The new helmsman of the commission was warming up for inauguration by the supervising minister of Niger Delta Development, Engr Abubakar Momoh, before the House moved against the action.
LEADERSHIP gathered that the action of the House enjoys the support and backing of the chief of staff (cos) to the president, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila.
This newspaper was informed by a reliable source in the Presidency that Gbajabiamila collaborated with the leadership of the House to halt the inauguration of the board, which would have been performed by Momoh on Friday.
Findings by LEADERSHIP revealed that the House protested its exclusion from the screening and confirmation of the nominees, stating that its exclusion was a negation of section 2a of NDDC Act 2000.
Section 2a partly states that the board and management of NDDC would “be appointed by the President and Commander-in-Chief-of the Armed Forces, subject to the confirmation of the Senate in consultation with the House of Representatives.”
This newspaper learnt that the leadership of the green chamber of the National Assembly was not convinced by the argument of its Senate counterpart that the chairman of the House Committee on NDDC, Hon. Erhiatake Ibori-Suenu, was invited and actively participated in the confirmation and screening of the nominees in the spirit of the relevant section of the NDDC Act.
The House resolved that it was not “sufficiently consulted” as spelt out in the aforementioned section of the enabling act, despite the participation and representation of Ibori-Suenu in the exercise.
In stopping the inauguration of the new NDDC team, the House insisted that the nominees must appear before its committee on NDDC for screening and eventual confirmation at the plenary.
Consequently, an impeccable source in the House told LEADERSHIP yesterday that the exercise would take place in the green chamber either on Thursday or Friday.
A source in the Senate Committee on Niger Delta, which handled the screening, decried the action of the House, saying that the leadership of the House acted in bad faith.
The source said the House was duly consulted in line with the dictates of the Act, with the invitation extended to Ibori-Suenu.
He said, “The Senate Committee on Niger Delta, being conscious of the provision of the NDDC, especially section 2a, which requested the Senate to screen and confirm nominees into the management and board of NDDC in consultation with the House of Representatives, invited the House committee on NDDC to be part of the exercise.
“The chairman of the House Committee on NDDC, Hon. Erhiatake Ibori-Suenu participated actively in the screening exercise.
“The nominees were screened and cleared with Hon. Erhiatake Ibori-Suenu in attendance and the Senate consequently transmitted a letter to the Presidency – that the nominees are good to go for inauguration and resumption of duties.
“Surprisingly, we later heard that the House of Representatives expressed reservations about the exercise and the Presidency was prevailed upon to stop the inauguration pending when the nominees would appear before the House committee on NDDC headed by the same Hon. Erhiatake Ibori-Suenu. The Senate was taken aback because it’s like the House of Representatives is set to review its action.
“The House claimed that the level of consultation with it in carrying out the exercise was unsatisfactory. Even the chief of staff to the president, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila, supported the protests by the House and the Minister of Niger Delta Development, Abubakar Momoh, was directed by the Presidency to stay action on the planned inauguration of the management and board cleared by the Senate until the House of Representatives is through with them,” the source, which pleaded not be named, said.
In justifying the action of the House of Representatives, another source in the green chamber, said Ibori-Suenu was involved in the screening in the Senate in her personal capacity.
The source said Ibori-Suenu didn’t participate in the Senate screening session in an official capacity.
“The House of Representatives was not properly consulted in the screening of the NDDC’s nominees in line with the spirit and letters of section 2a of the NDDC Act. We protested the exclusion of the House, and we are glad that the Presidency saw reasons in our actions and stopped the inauguration of the nominees cleared by the Senate.
“The nominees are expected to appear before the House committee on NDDC either on Thursday or Friday, this week,” the source, who also craved anonymity further stated.
The spokesperson of the House and chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Hon. Akin Rotimi Jr, in a tacit confirmation of the faceoff between the House and the Senate, said the House acted within the ambit of the NDDC Act.
Rotimi, in response to the enquiry by our correspondent, in a WhatsApp message, said the House was always guided by law.
“Towards compliance with Section 2a of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) act, which prescribes that the Senate, in consultation with the House of Representatives, screens and confirms presidential nominees to the NDDC board, the House is taking necessary steps, in concert with the Senate, to fulfill the extant provisions of the law accordingly,” Rotimi said.