No more war with Presidency –Senate

Two days after the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Gida Mustapha visited the National Assembly, to signpost a fresh breath to the relationship between the legislative and executive branches of government, Senate has reciprocated the gesture, when it sought his advice on the status of the board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) .
The move followed a motion on the floor of the Senate, by Senator Emmanuel Paulker, where it was alleged that the tenure of the board had been unilaterally extended.
The motion was not discussed upon pleas by the Senate President, Bukola Saraki and Senate Leader, Ahmad Lawan, against the backdrop of the new relationship between the executive and the legislature. Saraki, in affirming that there should be no debate said that the era of “balderdash” was over.
Hours after, Mustapha has denied an alleged extension of the present board of the Niger Delta Development Commission ( NDDC).
He was reacting to Senate’s resolve to investigate the allegation, after Paulker’s motion was read in the chamber .
The SGF’s reaction came in a letter signed by a Permanent Secretary, Mr Dayo Apata.
In the letter titled: “Re: Clarification on the tenure of the governing board of the NDDC,” the SGF said the Senator Victor Ndoma Egba-led board was not a continuation of the dissolved one headed by Senator Bassey Ewa-Henshaw.
“Section 5(2) of the Act refers to a situation where a vacancy occurs as a result of any of the provisions of section 5(1) of the Act, as opposed to when the entire board is dissolved. In this case, the previous board was dissolved and its tenure extinguished.
“Dissolution of the board cannot be categorised as a vacancy under the act. Dissolution signifies total extinguishing of the board; it simply ceases to exist and there cannot be any remainder of any term which a successor is expected to complete.
“There has to be a fresh composition of the board for a fresh term of four years.”
Paulker had, in a motion earlier in the day, stated that contrary to the clear provisions of section 5 (3) of the NDDC Act, the tenure of the present board had been illegally extended to four years by the immediate past acting secretary to the Government of the Federation, Dr. Habiba Lawal.
Also earlier, Saraki had made the position of the upper legislative chamber known, when lawmakers considered Paulker’s motion on the tenure of the NDDC board.
Saraki, who did not allow a debate on the motion, said: “We are not here to always attack the executive. The days of always attacking the executive is over. We are not here to always attack the executive.
“The days of always attacking the executive is over. We must not be involved in acts of balderdash. I suggest that we handle it amicably and allow the relevant committees to take to meet with the SGF and look at the issue.”
On his part, Lawan, in a brief intervention before Saraki ruled on the issue, pleaded with his colleagues to allow Mustapha resolve the issue.
“I had an engagement with the SGF yesterday. Others tried to find out what happened. I want to appeal to all of us here. Since we want to work with the new SGF and considering the fact that the man wants to work with us, I want us to meet with the SGF to find ways to resolve this, in a good way,” Lawan pleaded.
Paulker, in his motion, said the NDDC board was appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari to complete the tenure of the last board, whose tenure will expire next month.
He said Dr. Lawal extended the board’s tenure, contrary to the earlier terms of agreement in the engagement letters handed to the board members. Thereafter, Senate mandated the Committee on Niger Delta to investigate the tenure of the present board o and liaise with the new SGF.
A senator who spoke after the resolution to resolve the issue with the SGF, said the intervention of the Senate President must have been informed by the need to promote the new found rapport between the executive and the legislature.
He recalled that the recent appointment of a new SGF occasioned his visit to the leadership of the National Assembly, to improve and strengthen Executive/Legislature relationship.
The Senate leadership, he said, may also have been moved to support the reform minded initiative of the present NDDC leadership.
He noted that the matured handling of the motion by the Senate leadership had gone further to underscore and demonstrate the determination of the Senate to support the core mandate of the NDDC as an interventionist agency.
According to him, on this the NDDC leadership on their part, are required to focus in its present commitment to develop the region and make the agency responsible.