By Henry Umoru
SEVENTEEN years into its existence, the Senate, yesterday, finally reviewed and amended the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Establishment Act of 2000 for effective service delivery.
The Bill for an Act to amend the Niger Delta Development Commission( Establishment, etc) Act 2000, and other matters connected therewith, was yesterday read for the third time and passed.
According to the Senate, the amended Bill was carried out, “to remove obvious impediments, particularly in the area of funding and reposition the commission to carry out its mandate effectively.”
The decision of the upper chamber was sequel to the consideration of report of the Senate Committee on Niger Delta Affairs by the Chairman, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi, PDP, Delta North and 18 others.
Incidentally, the report was signed by all the 18 senators who are members of the Committee and the Clerk of the Committee.
The passed Bill, which was read for the first time on July 26, 2017, had the general principles deliberated on by the senators on July 27, thereafter read for the second time and referred to the committee for further legislative action.
Presenting the report, Senator Nwaoboshi said “The main objective of the bill is to clarify certain provisions in the Principal Act and to provide for prompt remittance of funds due to the Niger Delta Development Commission, as well as penalties for delay or default”
It explained that with the clarification of some provisions in the bill, representation on the board of NDDC will henceforth be clearly defined, adding that the financial burden of the commission would be reduced with the provision of new subsections to ensure prompt remittances to the commission.
“With the strengthening of some provisions, the contributors that failed to fulfil their statutory obligations to the commission will be made to do so.
“It is imperative to amend the Niger Delta Development Commission (Establishment etc.) Act 2000 so as to remove obvious impediments, particularly in the area of funding and reposition the commission to carry out its mandate effectively,” the lawmakers said.
The Senate, however, observed that the NDDC Act, 2000 has been in operation for 17 years and has never been reviewed, adding that the amendment was in consonance with the observations of senators while considering the confirmation of Presidential nominees for the Governing Board of the NDDC and debate on the general principles of the bill.
It added that “as a result of weaknesses of certain provisions and gaps in the Principal Act, some of the contributors have not paid anything to fund of the commission till date, while others are underpaying by not declaring their total annual budget to the commission.”