The House of Representatives yesterday refused to allow the Minister for Niger Delta Affairs, Pastor Usani Uguru Usani, to defend the 2018 budget estimates for the ministry. Chairman of the House Committee on Niger Delta Affairs, Hon. Essien Ekpenyong, who carried out the act, accused the minister of contempt for the legislature and asked him to appear unfailingly next Tuesday with all supporting documents.
Ekpeyong explained that the decision of the committee not to grant audience to the minister was caused by his consistent refusal to furnish them with details of the contracts awarded by the ministry in the 2016 and 2017 appropriation acts. He said it was curious that the minister was not able to submit even documents relating to its 2018 budget estimates to the committee until yesterday morning.
“The Niger Delta Ministry was set up to see to the development of the Niger Delta, while the committee was equally put in place to facilitate the development of the region through ap-propriate legislative instrument,” he stated. According to the chairman, the ministry has not been cooperating with the committee and, by extension, the National Assembly, noting that, “this committee seriously frowns at the attitude of the Honourable Minister.”
The lawmaker recalled that: “On February 22, 2017, a letter ref: NASS/8HR/ CT.069/183 was sent to the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs requesting for the number of houses built in each state of the Niger Delta indicating unit cost, location, and stages of completion. If they have been completed and allocated, he should state the beneficiaries and qualification of the beneficiaries.
The ministry refused to provide the needed information.” The lawmaker added that a reminder on the subject matter, sent to the Niger Delta Affairs Ministry on May 17, was equally ignored. Speaking further, the lawmaker said: “This committee seriously frowns at the attitude of the minister towards it.
On Tuesday, July 14, 2017, the House of Representatives passed a resolution mandating all standing committees to request all ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) under their supervision to supply information on all moveable assets in their ministries for the purpose of verification.
“The committee wrote to the ministry dated July 26, 2017 ref: NASS/ 8HR/ CT.069/190. This letter was ignored by the minister and up till now, we have not gotten the reply to the letter, not to talk of supplying the needed information.
“Lastly, on November 13, 2017, a letter was sent to the minister, attention Director of Procurement requesting for the lists of contracts awarded from the 2016 appropriation act and the location of such projects in the Niger Delta region, this was equally ignored