By Tordue Salem – Abuja
The Acting Managing Director of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Kemebradikumo Daniel Pondei and his staff staged a walk-out on the House of Representatives Committee on NDDC on Thursday.
The drama occurs at a resumed investigative hearing organized by the House Committee on NDDC on financial malfeasance and other activities in the Niger Delta Development Commission which has hindered progress in the region 20 years after its establishment.
The MD got miffed and bolted as soon as the Chairman of the Committee on NDDC, Mr. Olubumi Tunji-Ojo (APC, Ondo) had finished reading his speech, where reasons for the probe, were outlined.
After yielding the floor to the NDDC boss to respond to queries, he, instead, asked the Chairman to recuse himself.
Mr. Pondei stuck to his guns, insisting that the head of the Committee must step aside because according to him(Pondei), he lacked the moral grounds to preside over a meeting which he (Tunji-Ojo) happens to be an interested party.
According to him, “we are not comfortable with the chairman of this Committee. The chairman of this Committee has, Mr. Olubumi Tunji-Ojo has been accused of various crimes against by Niger Delta Development Commission and as an interested party, he can not preside over this meeting”.
Some members of the Committee failed to hush the MD or interject him, as he was loud and recalcitrant.
As he was talking, as Mr. Shehu Koko (APC, Kebbi) the chairman Committee on Airforce, raised a point of order to say the MD should not personalize the issues, but that if he has any complaint against the Chairman of the Committee, he should report at the appropriate quarters.
Speaking, Mr. Koko said: ” if you have anything against the Chairman you can go to EFCC (Economic Financial Crimes Commission), ICPC (Independent Corrupt Practices Commission) or any of the security outfits to lay your complaints but as far as the rules of this House is concerned, you can not come here and decide how we should conduct our affairs”.
The spokesperson of the House, Mr. Benjamin Kalu (APC-Abia) who was also present, agreed.
“There is no petition before us (House) against the Chairman’s misconduct so you can not come here and tell us how to conduct our affairs. After all, you have a right to a fair hearing and that is why you were invited here”.
At that point where Mr. Koko raised his point of order, the Managing Director of NDDC flared up, saying ” what point of order, you can not stop me, I’m talking. You can’t stop me “, and he stood up and walked away with his staff in tow.
Members of the NDDC committee, however, passed a vote of confidence on the chairman as Rep. Victor Kolade’s (APC- Ondo) was adopted.
The House of Representatives Committee on NDDC and its counterpart in the Senate begun probing the NDDC for non-submission of financial reports to the Auditor General’s office and other corruption allegations.
On the other hand, the NDDC has also accused the National Assembly lawmakers of culpability in the same corruption allegations. So there have been this back and forth between the lawmakers and the Commission.