•Over lopsided recruitment, use of fund
From Fred Itua and Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
The Directorate of State Services (DSS) and the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) are currently in the eye of the storm with the Senate and House of Representatives investigating their conducts.
The DSS is being investigated by the Senate, which, yesterday, endorsed the move by its Committee on Federal Character, to carry out thorough investigation, on the lopsided recruitment it recently carried out.
The House of Representatives, on its part, is probing the NDDC over the utilisation of funds appropriated for it from 2010 to date.
The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Federal Character, Senator Tijjani Abubakar Kaura, had, during plenary yesterday, declared that his committee, based on petitions from concerned Nigerians, on recent recruitment carried out by DSS, resolved to probe the exercise considered to be highly lopsided in favour of a particular state and section of the country.
Senator Kaura informed the Senate that the said investigation of the lopsided recruitment by the DSS would go a long way in restoring the confidence of Nigerians on the principles of federal character required for such exercise, on the basis of equity, justice and fairness.
Accordingly, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, in his response to Kaura’s submission, gave the committee the nod to go ahead with the probe and update the Senate with its findings.
“Your committee should please go ahead with the planned investigation on the alleged lopsided recruitment in DSS to right whatever wrongs that must have been committed in the general interest of all Nigerians,” Saraki said.
Reports on the alleged lopsided recruitment exercise carried out by DSS last month, revealed wide disparity in state-by-state allocation of the 479 newly commissioned cadet officers.
The report said although, at least, five cadets were recruited from each state of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory, some states in the North got more slots. It indicated that Katsina State, the home state of President Muhammadu Buhari and the Director-General of the DSS, Lawal Daura, got 51 slots for cadets. Also Kano got 25 slots.
Southern states, like Lagos and Akwa Ibom, got seven and five respectively.
A breakdown of the newly commissioned cadet officers on geo-political basis revealed that 165 are from the North-West, while 42 are from South-South.
North-East got 100 slots, North-Central 66, South-West 57 and South-East 44.
In a related development, the House of Representatives yesterday resolved to probe the utilisation of funds appropriated for the NDDC) from 2010 to date.
Towards this end, the House would set-up an ad-hoc committee to ascertain all outstanding sums due to the NDDC and the utilisation of the funds the agency has so far received in seven years. The ad-hoc committee is expected to submit its report within four weeks for further legislative actions.
The House also urged the Federal Government to ensure proper funding of the interventionist agency, in line with the Act establishing it.
This followed the unanimous adoption of a motion by Hon. Kingsley Chinda on the need to investigate statutory funding of the NDDC.
Leading debate on the motion, Chinda said there had been serious concern over the funding of the NDDC and the management of funds that accrue to the agency.
The lawmaker explained that Section 14 of the NDDC Act stipulated that the agency shall be funded from the equivalent of 15 per cent of the total monthly statutory allocations due to member states of the commission from the Federation Account, as the contribution of the Federal Government.
He added that the agency should also derive its fund from three per cent of the total annual budget of oil-producing companies, operating in the region and 50 per cent of monies due to member states of the commission from the ecological fund.
The lawmaker said the inability of the government to comply strictly with the funding arrangement had undermined the efficient performance of the NDDC.
Stating that while it was imperative to urge the Federal Government to keep to its part of the bargain, he noted that funds so far received by the NDDC should also be investigated to ensure that the people of the Niger Delta got value for money.
Contributing to the debate, Hon. Uzoma Nkem Abonta said every year, huge sums of money were appropriated for the NDDC, making it imperative for the House to beam a searchlight on the agency, so as to ascertain how these funds were utilised.