Protest in Ondo community over alleged plot to remove monarch

Senators divided over Onochie, Buhari’s nominee for chairman

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Members of the Senate Committee on Niger Delta Affairs took varied positions on nominees of the Board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) sent to the Senate by President Muhammadu Buhari.

According to the letter read on the floor of the Senate last month by the President of the Senate, Buhari’s Special Assistant on New Media, Lauretta Onochie was listed for confirmation as the nominee from Delta as Chairman of the federal government intervention agency for the Niger Delta intervention agency.

Checks revealed that his nomination for the position of National Commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission was rejected by the Senate.

At the screening session of Onochie and other nominees on Thursday, presided over by the Senator representing Gombe South and Chairman of the Committee, Senator Bulus Amos, some of the lawmakers spoke against her nomination on the ground that she was not from the oil-producing local government in Delta State.

Two-term Bayelsa State governor and Senator representing Bayelsa West, Seriake Dickson took Onochie to task as he maintained that her nomination was in breach of provisions of Section 12(1) of NDDC (Establishment etc.) Act, 2000.

He said:” I would like to know your local Government in Delta state and your community and whether to the best of your knowledge, the community you come from is an oil producing community or it has oil facilities located therein.”

Senator Dickson was however faulted by former Abia State Governor and Senator representing Abia North Central, Orji Uzor Kalu. Citing precedence, the Senate Chief Whip recalled that a former Chairman of the NDDC from Abia State, Chief Onyema Ugochukwu under the Chief Olusegun Obasanjo administration was not from the oil-producing local government area of the southeast state.

He said: “We need to be more guided, we have appointed a chairman from our state that is not from the local government where they produce oil, Chief Onyema Ugochukwu, and nobody can tell us to reject this one.”

Senator representing Ekiti Central, Michael Opeyemi Bamidele also asked his Committee to confirm Buhari’s Special Assistant on New Media as member and Chairman of the NDDC as he declared that she was qualified for the exalted office.

He said: “The essence of this comment is to clarify the position of the Senate on this matter.

“On the nominee for the chairmanship position, when we had a reason to turn down the presidential nomination of this same nominee in the Senate, just because the position for which she was nominated was the position of an electoral umpire and there were members of the public who were concerned that because she is a card-carrying member of a political party and a presidential aide and in the Senate Committee on Electoral Matters we took into cognisance the concern of the public.”

“Today in the Senate, we are faced with a different scenario. She has been nominated as a representative from an oil-producing state and for the purpose of holding a political appointment for which she is eligibly qualified. That is our position and I wanted the public to be clear on this.”

Another member of the Committee and Senator representing Delta South, James Manager, assured that the Niger Delta Committee would look at the petition written by the concerned group from the region on Onochie’s nomination.

He said: “This is one nominee we rejected on the floor of the Senate we rarely reject nominees from the president but this was done.

“Now this person is here again before the Senate. I want the public to know that this one is an isolated case, in an executive session we will discuss it. We will look at the petitions.”

Tribune Online investigation revealed that lawmakers from Ondo State wrote a joint petition asking the Senate to reject the nomination of Charles Ogunmola as
NDDC Executive Director, Project.

In the petition dated, 28th November 2022 and addressed to President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, Senators Ajayi Boroffice, Patrick Akinyelure and Nicholas Tofowomo submitted that the nominee.” Mr Charles Ogunmola is not an indigene of oil producing area of Ondo State.”

They jointly noted that her confirmation would be a contravention of the NDDC Act which clearly stipulated that nominees “shall be an indigene of oil producing area”.

The petition titled, “Rejection of the Nomination of Charles Ogunmola as NDDC Executive Director, Project,” reads in part.

“We write as Distinguished Senators representing the three senatorial districts of Ondo State to reject the nomination of Mr Charles Ogunmola as Executive Director, Project of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

“Our position is premised on the fact that the nomination of Mr Charles Ogunmola is non-compliance with the provisions of Section 12(1) of NDDC (Establishment etc) Act, 2000.

“The aforementioned Act clearly stated that the nominee for the position of Executive Director, Project of NDDC “shall be an indigene of oil producing area,” Mr Charles Ogunmola is not an indigene of oil producing area of Ondo State.

“Therefore, we call on Your Excellency and the Nigerian Senate to uphold the extant Provisions of the NDDC (Establishment, etc) Act 2000 by rejecting the nomination of Mr Charles Ogunmola.

“Please, accept the assurances of our highest regards always.”

ALSO READ FROM NIGERIAN TRIBUNE 

NDDC Board: Senators divided over Onochie, Buhari’s nominee for Chairman


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