Senate yesterday approved a total sum of N241,114,000,000 as the 2016 Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, budget.
It also condemned the reduction of MTN’s fine from N1.04 trillion to N780 billion.
Accordingly, the Senate directed its committee on Communications to invite all the relevant stakeholders including the Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, Accountant General of the Federation, Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu, Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Godwin Emefiele, Managing Director, MTN Nigeria Limited, Mr. Rob Shuter and all other parties involved in all negotiations to shed light on the matter, especially whether the reduction was in accordance with the regulation of the NCC governing fines and penalties.
It also urged the Federal Government to move the initial amount of N50 billion from the CBN Recovery Account to the CBN/NCC Treasury Single Account, TSA.
However, the Upper Chamber adjourned plenary for 3 weeks and to resume back on July 12th, 2016.
In passing the budget, the Senate reduced the N260,064,000,000 budget of the commission submitted by President Muhammadu Buhari to N241,114,000,000.
The slash in the budget was in the area of development projects. The President had proposed N231,224,000,000 but the Upper Chamber cut it down to N212,274,000,000.
The breakdown of the budget showed thus: Personnel Expenditure N17,560,518,930; Overhead Expenditure N9,980,000,000 and Internal Capital Expenditure N1,300,000,000.
Presenting the report of his Committee on the budget, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Niger Delta, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi said the slash represents 8.20 percent.
He said: “The adjustments were made only in the capital projects amounting to 8.20 percent cut across the states and region but did not affect the recurrent expenditure”.
In his remarks, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, stressed the need for the full implementation of the budget to alleviate the sufferings of the people of the region.
Besides, Chairman Senate Committee on Communications, Senator Gilbert Nnaji raised a point of order, said, section 19 and 20 of 2011 Act of Nigeria Communications Commission, NCC, has been blatantly breached, since it was not within their powers to reduce the fine without involving appropriate agency of government which they have done.
He explained that the fine which was as a result of MTN’s failure to deactivate about 5.2million unregistered subscribers was initially reduced from N1.04trillion to N780billion.
He expressed regret that these public officers of government have held private meetings with MTN to go out of their way to reduce the amount to N330billion without the input of NCC.
Nnaji said: “Nigeria has been shortchanged in this whole process of account of the ridiculous settlement payment plan coupled with the disparity in the exchange rate regime when the fine was imposed abinitio compared with the current prevailing exchange rate where the value of naira is taking a downward slide.
“As the representatives of the Nigerian people, we are saddened about this development coming at a time when the Nigerian economy needs all the available capital infusion to bolster it.
“Actions taken by these officers have whittled down powers of the NCC with a negative impression of weakling statutes where any individual or firms can take the nation for granted”.
In his remarks, Senate President, Bukola Saraki asked the committee to report back in two weeks.

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