By Musa Adamu
Senate Committee on Niger Delta Affairs will today querry the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) over the sack of some staff of the commission between February and May this year, even as the agency begins its 2020 budget defence session before the Senate.
The investigation could not hold yesterday due to inability of the IMC to meet with Senate schedule, having been held up in an investigative hearing with the House of Representatives.
The Senate had on May 5, 2020 on the strength of a motion sponsored by Senator George Sekibo (PDP Rivers East) on alleged financial recklessness and arbitrary sacking of staff in NDDC, mandated his committee on Niger Delta Affairs, to investigate the staff sacking aspect and assigned that of financial recklessness to an Ad-hoc Committee.
While the Ad- hoc committee had carried out its own investigation on the alleged financial recklessness against the current Professor Daniel Pondei led IMC of NDDC, the Senate Committee on Niger Delta Affairs has not been able to get attention of the IMC members on alleged illegal sacking of staffers.
Attempt made by the Committee, led by Senator Peter Nwaoboshi (PDP Delta North), on Monday to carry out the investigation was stalled with the absence of the entire IMC members along with the Managing Director, Professor Pondei.
Signs that the IMC members would not appear before the Committee, emerged at about 12:30 pm when none of them was sighted at the venue of the planned investigative hearing in the Senate wing of the National Assembly.
Even attempt made by the Committee to ensure appearance of the IMC members before it two hours after by shifting the sitting to 3:00pm failed, as none of them appeared at about 3:20 pm when the session resumed.
Irked by the development, the committee chairman, Peter Nwaoboshi, asked the NDDC Director of Human Resources, Silas Anyanwu to offer explanation for the development.
Anyanwu in his explanation said the Managing Director of NDDC, Professor Pondei and other IMC members, were held back at the House of Representatives wing of the National Assembly where they were being engaged on similar investigation.
He said “For the past two hours sir, I have been communicating with the MD and some other IMC members but information reaching me indicated that they are not allowed to leave the venue of similar investigation going on in the House of Representatives”, he said.
Apparently not satisfied with the explanation, Senator Nwaoboshi reminded the Human Resources Director that the Monday sitting was the third attempt to get the IMC members to respond to series of petitions written against them by the sacked staffers.
“Even if the MD is held up in the House of Representatives , is there no person from the IMC who has the capacity to represent?”, he asked.
Though Anyanwu attempted to make presentation on behalf of the absentee MD, but withdrew when he was asked to sign the unsigned written submissions forwarded to the committee by the IMC.
At that point , the committee members quickly resolved that since tomorrow, Tuesday, July 14, 2020 , is the day fixed for 2020 budget defence session for the Commission, the issue of illegal sacking of staff, will be taken as well.
To this end, the Committee Chairman said, “from the altitude and actions shown so far by the IMC on this investigation, there is no sign of seriousness or interest from them.
“Though because of our respect for our colleagues in the House of Representatives, this sitting will be adjourned till tomorrow which is even the earlier fixed day for the 2020 budget defence session for the Commission.
“Before we adjourn, an erroneous impression must be corrected by saying that it is not this committee that petitioned against NDDC, but affected staff who alleged to have been illegally dismissed from service from of the commission.
“Petitions on such allegations have been forwarded to us and most of the affected staff have made their presentations which must be responded to by the IMC”, he said.