Deputy Senate President, Omo-Agege assures of a better NDDC Act
*As CSOs want expedited action on Witness Protection, Whistle Blowers Bills
ABUJA, NIGERIA. September 26, 2022… Deputy President of the Nigerian Senate, Distinguished Senator Ovie Omo-Agege has assured oil-producing states of a better interventionist agency that will guarantee transparency and accountability in the development of oil-bearing communities after the ongoing amendment of the Niger Delta Development Commission Act.
Senator Ovie Omo-Agege gave the assurance today while receiving a delegation of Civil Society Organisations from the anti-Corruption cluster of the Strengthening Civic Advocacy and Local Engagement (SCALE) project led by the Deputy Executive Director, Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ), Mr. Leo Atakpu who were in his office on an advocacy visit.
Represented by his Chief of Staff, Dr. Otive Igbuzor, the Deputy President of Senate said that he is desirous of a transparent and accountable NDDC just as President Muhamadu Buhari commissioned an audit to unravel the unbridled corruption and opaqueness that has become the lot of the agency assuring the visiting CSOs that the National Assembly will ensure that issues raised were considered at the next stages of the NDDC Act amendment process, urging the CSOs to review their presentation in line with the useful discussions held and represent same.
“The Office of the Deputy Senate President is on the same page with you on the call for a transparent and accountable NDDC that can deliver the best services to the people of Oil producing States.
“It also resonates with the position of President Muhammadu Buhari who had earlier commissioned a forensic audit of the NDDC with a view to ending the culture of impunity and corruption and make the institution more accountable to the people of oil producing communities in the country,” Dr. Otive Igbuzor said.
He equally told the CSOs to make themselves available during the public hearing for the NDDC Act Amendment Bill which has since scaled second reading in the Senate to ensure that their voices are heard loud and clear and their recommendations submitted for consideration.
Earlier in his address, Deputy Executive Director of ANEEJ, Mr. Leo Atakpu told the representatives of the Deputy Senate President that Civil Society implementing the ’Enhancing Anti-Corruption and Social Inclusive Reforms Initiative in Nigeria’’ project a microcosm of the SCALE project being supported by Palladium with funding from United States Agency for International Development (USAID) were interested in massive reforms of the NDDC through the ongoing NDDC Act Amendment Bill to reposition the interventionist agency and make it more transparent and accountable to the Niger Delta people.
Atakpu called for the reduction in overheads of the NDDC, inclusion of Civil Society in the Monitoring and Evaluation Committee, inclusion of Gender a clause to provide specific roles for Women and Persons with Disabilities as well as the reduction of the Board’s tenure to a single term of five years. He said the Board should be a policy-making organ and should not be given executive responsibilities to cut down on administrative expenditures of the agency to free resources for development of the region.
Mr. Leo Atakpu also called for the inclusion of stiff penalties for Multinational Oil Companies that fail to remit the mandatory percentage of their annual profits to the commission and called for an end to the culture of impunity companies.
The group submitted a position paper which is speaks to a number of clauses for the National Assembly’s consideration in the amendment of the NDDC Act.
Mr. Atakpu also used the opportunity to call on the Deputy Senate President to use his very good offices and working with his esteemed colleagues in the Senate to expedite action on the transmission of a harmonized version of the Witness Protection and Management Bill earlier passed by the Senate and concurred by the House of Representatives as well as the speedy passage of the Whistle blowers Bill for the President’s assent before the end of tenure of the current 9th National Assembly to boost the fight against corruption in Nigeria.
High point of the meeting was the presentation of CSO Policy brief on the NDDC Act and marketing materials of the anti-corruption Cluster of the SCALE project to the representative of the Deputy Senate President.
Also in the team of the Deputy Senate President were his Special Adviser on Legislation and Plenary Matters, Prince Efe Duku and Ms. Lara Owoeye-Wise the Senior Special Adviser on Electronic Media.
On the side of CSOs were: Executive Director, 21 Century Community Empowerment for youth and Women Initiative, Abuja, Mallam Lukman Adefolahan, Communications and Administration Officers of ANEEJ, Mr. Hussein Adeleye and Madam Joy Igwe-Okoye respectively.