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Senate summons N’Delta minister over alleged plot to divert NDDC’s N480bn funds

The Senate has summoned the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Umana Okon Umana, over the alleged plot to divert the N480 billion intervention funds belonging to the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC). This followed a petition against Umana being investigated by the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions chaired by Senator Ayo Akinyelure (PDP, Ondo Central). Akinyelure, who addressed a news conference in Abujayesterday, saidthefund is with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

He said the petitioner claimedthattheministerhad perfected plans to seek presidential approval to collect the money under the guise that it would be spent on special projects. Akinyelure said: “There is N480 billion in a CBN account. Umana Umana is said to have perfected ways to present some new projects to President Muhammadu Buhari to approve it for him to start using the money to implement projects that are not appropriated by the National Assembly.

The power of appropriation is conferred on the National Assembly, not on Mr. President. Mr. The President can onlygive approval forService Wide Votes (SWV) when the money appropriated by the National Assembly is not adequate to implement some projects meant for a particular state or region.”

The lawmaker said other allegations were levelled against Umanaamong which is his refusal to forward two annual budgets of the NDDC (2021and2022) totheNational Assembly for approval while the money being spent by the commission on the orders of the minister. Akinyelure said: “The President has in his wisdom deemed it fit to appropriate funds to Niger Delta but the minister has refused to bring the appropriation before the National Assembly for us democratically elected representatives of the people to giveapproval. Thereisalotof higherlevelmismanagement of resources due to the developing Niger Delta. “Because we are entering anelectionyear, thisis the fear of the Niger Delta people. We are entering an election year. We have less than seven months for Mr. President to say bye-bye to Nigerians, and he has a legacy to prove that he loves.

“Why the budgets of 2021 and 2022 must be held by the ministerbycollaborating with some people who do not love the people of Niger Delta not to bring his budget to the National Assemblywhenweare readyto passthebudget of the NDDC. “The budget of other similar agencies brought by their ministers havebeenapproved by the National Assembly.” Umana was also summoned to explain why he sacked over 100 NDDC workers. The minister was also accused of plotting to sack the NDDC Sole Administrator Effiong Akwa and replace him with one of his cronies. ThepetitionbeforetheSenate also accused the minister of deliberate refusal to inaugurate the NDDC board.




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