There was rowdy session on the floor of the national assembly on Thursday, as some lawmakers from the Niger Delta region kicked against the nomination Mrs Lauretta Onochie as chairman of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) board by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Onochie, who is special assistant to President Buhari on new media, is an indigene of Onicha-Olona, Aniocha North Local Government Area, Delta state, had been previously nominated by the President as a Resident Electoral Commissioner, REC, but was rejected by the Senate.
On Thursday, she appeared before the Senate and the House of Representatives Committees on Niger Delta Affairs and NDDC, along with other nominees for screening, Vanguard reported.
The screening began in a rowdy session, as some members, Senators insisted that Onochie was ineligible to head the NDCC board, on the ground that she is from a community in Delta state that is not an oil-producing area.
Senator Henry Seriake from Bayelsa state, who raised the issue, said that the NDDC Act must be respected against the backdrop that some persons nominated are not fit, because they are not from the oil-producing areas and, if not checked, persons from non-oil producing areas would be dragged to form the board, just as he stressed the issue of indigeneship, adding that one cannot talk about the NDDC without the people.
Seriake 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.”
Also speaking on the matter, Senator James Manager, PDP, Delta South 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.
On her part, Stella Oduah, PDP, Anambra North said, “Nigeria women are particularly happy that the president did what he did by appointing a female, very capable woman to help this wonderful and relevant agency of Niger Delta.
“Whether we like it or not, when a woman comes in, her innate skills, her multitasking ability. I believe that for the first time Niger Deltans will have the required development that they so much are in need of. I thank Mr President for this nomination.”
Also speaking, the Chief Whip, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, APC, Abia North 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.”
Speaking at the commencement of the session, Onochie assured that she will work with other nominees to restore the mandate of the NDDC. She said: “I hail from a community that produces all kinds of agricultural products that have not been properly harnessed.
“These are some of the things we will work on to be able to bring food to the table of our people and to empower our people. Since the announcement of my nomination I have received thousand of applications from our young people wanting to be personal assistants because that is all they know.
“We are going to show them that there is more to life than being a personal assistant. We are going to show them how to be properly empowered so that our region can start booming like all the other regions.
“I have seen the men that I have been nominated along with. We have been in contact with each other. We are going to work as a team because I am a team player.”
Meanwhile, the Managing Director nominee, Chief Samuel Ogbuku, Major General Charles Airhiavbere, retd the Executive Director, Finance nominee; DimgbaErugba; Elder DimaroDenyabofa, State Representative, Bayelsa State, South -South; Hon. Gbenga Edema, State Representative, Ondo State, South – West; Professor Tahir Mamman, SAN, (Zonal Representative, Adamawa State, North-East, among others were asked to take a bow and go.
Ondo lawmakers reject nominee
In a related development, the Nominee from Ondo State for the position of Executive Director, Projects, Charles Ogunmola was rejected by the three Senators and members of House of Representatives from the state.
The resolution of the lawmakers was made known to the Committee by Senator Nicholas Tofowomo, PDP, Ondo South against the backdrop that the nominee is from Owo, a non oil producing area of the state.
Court halts screening
Meanwhile Justice J.K. Omotosho of a Federal High Court in Abuja yesterday ordered the President, Attorney-General of the Federation, National Assembly and others to stay action on the screening exercise for the NDCC nominees pending the hearing of motion Exparte filed by some aggrieved persons representing the Itsekiri ethnic nationality of Delta state.
The plaintiffs in the suit are Chief Edward Ekpoko, Engr Victor Wood (both representing Itsekiri leaders of thought) Mr Edward Omagbmi ,(representing Omadino Unity Forum while the defendants are the President, Attorney General of the federation and the Minister of Justice, President of the Senate of the National Assembly, Senate, Mrs Lauretta Onochie and Chief Samuel Ogbuku.
The plaintiffs had, among others, sought an Interim Injunction restraining the 3rd and 4th defendants from screening and confirming or taking any further steps to screen or confirm the nomination of the 5th and 6th defendants, as the next substantive Chairman and Managing Director NDDC pending expiration of the statutory three months pre-action notice already issued on the 3rd and 4th defendants and or the hearing and determination of the Motion on Notice already filed.