The Senate Committee on Niger Delta Affairs Thursday screened President Muhammadu Buhari’s nominees for the Governing Board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
First to be screened was a former Deputy Governor of Edo State, Dr. Pius Odubu, as Chairman of the Board of the NDDC and the nominee for the position of Managing Director of the agency, Bernard Okumagba.
Odubu who was a member of the House of Representatives from 1999 to 2007 was asked to “take a bow and go” in line with the parliamentary tradition of the Senate to extend such courtesies to former members of the National Assembly nominated for appointment.
Chief Bernard Okumagba who was nominated for the post of Managing Director of the intervention agency was also asked to “take a bow and go” after both the Chairman of the Committee, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi and Senator James Manager, representing Delta South, attested to his suitability for the job.
There was however drama when the nominee for the post of Executive Director Projects, Engr. Otobong Ndem (Akwa Ibom), appeared before the committee.
A member of the Committee, Senator Matthew Urhoghide, picked holes in the curriculum vitae of Ndem.
He sought to know why there were discrepancies in the chronology the candidate’s educational progression.
He also urged the nominee not to disappoint Nigerians on confirmation in view of the increasing rate of abandoned projects in region by the NDDC.
For instance, Urhoghide said that from the CV before him, had school certificate in 2007, National Diploma in 1999 and Higher National Diploma In 2002.
Also in his remarks, Senator George Sekibo noted that the candidate also claimed to have obtained his masters degree in 2012 and Bachelor of Science degree in 2019.
“As a former member of the House of Assembly, were you a Speaker or Deputy Speaker? If no, why did you prefix your name with the words ‘Right Honourable?’
On his part, Senator Rochas Okorocha said since Ndem had served in the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, he should be asked ‘to take bow and go’.
He said that the Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, as a former member of the Rivers State House of Assembly, was accorded a similar courtesy during his screening by the Senate.
This suggestion generated a heated argument among the committee members.
Senator James Manager however engaged Okorocha in heated exchange for insisting that the nominee be asked to take a bow and go.
“Senator Okorocha you are new here…you are new here,” Manager said.
The Chairman of the committee, Nwaoboshi, however, intervened to calm the situation.
He noted that it is true that Amaechi was asked to take a bow and go as a former Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly.
He noted that the questions put to the nominee were serious issues that need clarification.
The nominee, Ndem said there was an omission in his CV. He said that he had his first Ordinary Level Certificate in 1995 which was omitted.
He also stated that the 2007 school certificate result was to enable him study law after his HND programme.
He promised to avail the committee with the 1995 certificate before he was asked to take a bow and go.
The nominee for the position of Executive Director Finance and Administration, Maxwell Okoh from Bayelsa State was also screened.
Others are Delta State representative, Prophet Jones Erue; Chief Victor Ekhator (Edo) and Nwogu Nwogu (Abia).
The committee also screened Theodore Allison, representing Bayelsa State, Victor Antai (Akwa Ibom); Maurice Effiwatt (Cross River); Olugbenga Elema (Ondo); Hon. Uchegbu Chidiebere Kyrian (Imo); Northeast representative, Ardo Zubairu from Adamawa state and Ambassador Abdullahi Bage from Nasarawa State to represent the North Central geopolitical zone.
The nominee to represent Rivers State, Dr. Joy Yimebe Nunieh and the Northwest representative, Aisha Murtala Muhammed, from Kano State, were not available for screening.
The Committee, however, mandated its Chairman to screen the two remaining nominees on Monday.