The senator representing Delta north in the National Assembly, Barrister Peter Nwaoboshi has given reasons for sponsoring the amendment of the Act establishing the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
In a chat with journalists, the most distinguished senator said that his major reason was to create more monies for the commission.
He recounted that both the federal government and oil companies were defaulting in their payments to the NDDC.
For instance, he said: “The federal government was supposed to have been paying 50% ecological fund to the commission but it failed to pay. The oil companies which also were to pay 3% of their real annual budgets reneged, for 17 years now.”
Speaking further, the Senate committee chairman on Niger Delta Affairs, who has been code-named the most performing senator went on to say that the Nigeria Liquified Natural Gas (NLNG) had taken the NDDC to law courts and won the cases.
As a lawyer, he said, “I thought the best bet was to amend the act.” In truth, there were two essential amendments that were done. Apart from this one which seeks to generate more funds for the NDDC, the other was on the membership of the board.
“Before now, anybody could be appointed into the board of the commission, but with the amendments, only persons from oil producing local government areas would be appointed into the board.
The other aspect, he said, was to look into the core mandates of the commission to disallow the unnecessary influx of those who had no reason being there.
Sen. Nwaoboshi regretted that the commission was also bedeviled with a lot of anormalies, particularly on its wage bill, stressing that his committee had demanded the actual staff strength of the commission but nothing has been done about it till date.
He was also quick to say that “one other great effort we have achieved was to make the Executive Director, Finance, of the NDDC, a member of the federal allocation committee (FAC), to enable him know and determine how funds are allocated to NDDC.
On whether the law was retroactive? Sen. Nwaoboshi said no. He went futher to explain that only bad laws were retroactive. He commended his distinguished colleagues and members of the House of Representatives who, according to him, welcome the bill for the amendment of the act. He said that it was a popular bill in both Chambers.
He further revealed that the department of petroleum resources, DPR, has been mandated to urge the oil companies to submit their annual budgets.
He further said that, for mr President to have assented to the NDDC Act (as amended), on December 29, 2017, the last working day of the year, was a good omen, remarking that those arrears of monies owed to the commission would be paid.
The law before it was sponsored for amendment by Senator Peter Nwaoboshi, had given most Oil Companies, particularly the NLNG, a legal window of escape of payments and contributions to the coffers of the NDDC. The protracted legal battle which brewed between NLNG and the NDDC went as far as the Supreme Court of Nigeria, which had thrown the weight of legal opinions of the lower courts and even to the Supreme Court in favour of Nigeria Liquified Natural Gas. (NLNG)
From the fore-going it is no longer gainsaying that the people of Delta North Senatorial District have a vibrant voice in the Red Chamber of the National Assembly, as Sen. Peter Nwaoboshi is waxing stronger everyday.