The Niger Delta Affairs Minister, Mr. Umana Okon Umana, has been summoned before the Senate over an alleged scheme to divert an N480 billion intervention money from the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and domicile it in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) without the National Assembly’s consent.
Upon receipt of the petition under investigation by the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, which is presided over by Senator Ayo Akinyelure (PDP Ondo Central), the Minister is scheduled to appear before the panel.
The petition states that Umana is ready to ask the President for permission to collect the money under the pretense that it will be used for special projects in the Niger Delta.
Addressing journalists at the National Assembly complex in Abuja Senator Akinyelure said: “There is N480B funds 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 is not appropriated by National Assembly.
“The power of an appropriation is conferred on the National Assembly not on Mr. President. Mr. President, can only give approval for service Wide Votes when the money appropriated by the National Assembly is not adequate to implement some projects meant for a particular, state or region,” he stressed.
Other accusations against Umana, according to Senator Akinyelure, include his unwillingness to submit the NDDC’s two annual budgets (2021 and 2022) to the National Assembly for approval while funds are being spent by the commission at the minister’s direction, so seizing control over appropriations.
He said: “The president has in his wisdom deemed it fit to appropriate funds to the Niger Delta region but the minister has refused to bring the appropriation before the National Assembly for us democratically elected representatives of the people to give approval, they have refused to do so. There are a lot of higher-level mismanagement of resources due to develop the Niger Delta region.
“Because we are entering an election year, this is 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 Nigeria and he has a legacy to prove that he loves (the country).
“Why must the budget of 2021 and 2022 to be held by the minister by collaborating with some people who do not love the people of the Niger Delta region not to bring his budget for National Assembly when we are ready to pass the budget of NDDC.
“The budget of other similar agencies brought by their ministers and they have been approved by the National Assembly.”
The minister is also summoned to explain why he sacked over 100 NDDC staff therefore increasing the level of unemployment in the country.
“On his assumption of office as the Minister of Nigeria Delta Affairs, he sacked over 100 staff to compound the problem of Nigerians. We have received documentary evidence to back this allegation.
“He is there in the Niger Delta Affairs Ministry to pursue personal agenda, instead of pursuing the agenda of the people of Niger Delta region,” Senator Akinyelure further alleged.
Similar to this, the minister was also charged with hatching a scheme to remove President Buhari’s appointment of Effiong Akwa as the sole administrator of the NDDC and replace him with one of his allies.
In the petition before the Senate, Umana was charged of purposefully declining to swear in the NDDC board.
In light of this, Senator Akinyelure revealed that the minister had been requested to appear before the committee on November 10 and respond to all of the charges.
“We are giving you a fair hearing to come on the 10th of November to come and defend these allegations and say no, you never make any attempt to remove the appointee of Mr. President,” he said.