The Chairman, House Committee on Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Rep. Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo (APC-Ondo) has said that the Commission had been spending illegally and without appropriation for 11 months.
This is even as he said that the NDDC had been running foul of the appropriation laws for the past 14 months as it had yet to submit any budget proposal to the National Assembly for approval since Sept. 2018. He said that since the expiration of the approved 2018 Budget, the commission had been spending without approval.
Speaking in an interview with newsmen, in Abuja, Tunji-Ojo said that the commission had also running foul of its 2020 Budget as it was yet to submit its 2020 proposal three months after its was due. He said that all the expenditure by the NDDC amounted to extra-budgetary, which according to him, in violation of the NDDC Act and the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The Rep said that the committee will carry out a thorough investigation on the matter and make strong recommendations ‘no matter whose ox is gored’.
“It is a pathetic story, it is not a palatable experience and I am happy that the ninth Assembly is living up to expectation as the people’s house and looking after the people of Nigeria. “We know that the NDDC is still operating 2018 budget, passed by the previous assembly, we are in November and the 2019 budget has not been brought to the National Assembly yet.
“It is unheard of; it is an aberration and illegal. “It is beyond normal reasoning because preparing a budget and summiting to the house is not a difficult matter,’’ he said.
Quoting Section 18 of the NDDC Act, he said “the commission shall not later than September 30 each year submit an estimate of the expenditure and income of the commission for the succeeding year for approval’’.
Tunji-Ojo said that going by the Act, the NDDC should have submitted its 2020 budget latest on Sept. 30, 2019. According to him, it is unheard of; it is ridiculous to say that 14 months after which they should submit the 2019 budget, the house is still calling on them to bring it.
The lawmaker questioned the basis of NDDC operation and the legitimacy and authority of the commission’s activities in the last 14 months.
“This is an era of change; it is an era of Next Level; we must follow the law and ensure transparency and accountability becomes the hallmark of all we do. “We shall look at all the laws and adequate recommendations will be made by the committee no matter whose ox is gored.
“We promised our people that there will be new dynamics and that the equation will not be the same; we promised them that this commission will work for and with them, fending for their priority. “We are not loosing focus on that.
“What is important to me is that after four years, I want to look back and see a better Niger Delta region by performing our oversight duty responsibly to the delight of our people,’’ he said.