In a bid to halt a brewing crisis in the Niger Delta region arising from an alleged tenure elongation of the current members of the board of Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, the House of Representatives has asked the Federal Government to adhere to the provisions of the Act establishing the body.

The House also called on the federal government to liaise with the Libyan government to find solution to the menace of modern day slavery which involved Nigerians in the country.

The resolutions followed two separate motions titled “Violation of the Niger Delta Development Commission Act and its Attendant Consequences”, sponsored by Hon. Daniel Ofongo (Bayelsa) and “Need to Investigate the Inhuman and Barbaric Act of Slave Trade Involving the Auctioning of Black Africans in Libya”, sponsored by Hon. Saheed Akinade-Fijabi (Oyo State).

While moving the motion, the stated that against the practice of rotational chairmanship and the office of the Managing Director of NDDC amongst the relevant States, the former acting Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Dr (Mrs) Habila M. Lawal purportedly granted the Board members fresh tenure of four years.

He said that if the situation was not reversed, it would likely create crisis in the region as there were also agitations by the youths in the region.

He said: “The House notes that the tenure of the Board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) was cut short in 2015 following the dissolution of the Board;

“Also notes that the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Engineer Babachir David Lawal issued letters to the current members of the Board that was inaugurated by the present administration requiring them to serve for the unexpired tenure of the Board that was dissolved in 2015;

“Further notes the recent statement by the Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation regarding the letters of appointments issued to the Board members by the former acting Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Dr (Mrs) Habila M. Lawal was said to have granted the Board members fresh tenure of four years, rather than them serving out the unexpired tenure of the dissolved Board;

“Equally notes that the pronouncement was in clear violation of section 5 (2) of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) Act, 2000 which provides that “where a vacancy occurs in the membership of the Board, it shall be filled by the appointment of a successor to hold office for the remainder of the term of office of his predecessor, so however, that the successor shall represent the same interest and shall be appointed by the President, subject to the confirmation of the Senate, in consultation with the House of representatives;

“Aware that there is a nexus between the violation of the NDDC Act and youth restiveness in the Niger Delta region, which has such grave consequences of impacting adversely on oil production and consequently, the nation’s revenues from the resource;

“Cognizant of the provision of Section 88 (1) (b) (i) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 which empowers the National Assembly, by Resolution, to cause an investigation into the execution or administration of laws enacted by the National Assembly”.

Ruling on the matter after members had given their nod, the presiding officer and deputy speaker, Hon. Yusuf Lasun adhered to the prayers of the motion which included urging the “Federal Executive Arms of Government to adhere strictly to the provisions of the NDDC Act of 2000 with respect to the tenure of the current Board; and mandating the “Committee on Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to investigate the matter with a view to ensuring compliance with Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) Act, 2000”.

The Committee was given two weeks within which to conclude its assignment and report back to the House for further legislative action.

In a similar note, the House also urged the Federal Government to liaise with the Government of Libya to find a solution to the menace of migration and modern day slavery in Libya.

It also mandated its Committees on Human Rights, and Foreign Affairs to interface with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and relevant stakeholders to identify the factors that encourage migrants to embark on the perilous journey, proffer solutions that would discourage same and provide for how the Nigerian youths caught in the web of legal immigration procedures would return to the country.

Moving the motion, Fijabi said that a certain Nigerian was sold for $400 (₦144,000) to North African buyers as potential farm hands.

The motion which also has a reflection to another one moved by Hon. Omosede Igbinedion noted that Nigerians who migrate abroad in search of greener pastures ended up either dead or permanently injured.

Fajabi said: “The House notes that African migrants from nations including Nigeria, Guinea, Senegal, Mali, Niger and Gambia make the dangerous crossing through the Sahara Desert to Libya with hopes of making it over the Mediterranean Sea to Italy and other European countries in search of greener pastures;

“Also notes that on November 14, 2017, the US Television Network, CNN broke the news of auctioning of human beings in Libya with a live footage of the auctioning process in which young men were being sold to North African buyers as potential farm hands and one of the unidentified young men sold off for as little as $400 (₦144,000) is said to be a Nigerian in his twenties;

“Further notes that the footage of the auctioning of black Africans in the conflict-torn nation sparked outrage across the world with thousands of people taking to the streets of Paris , France to protest against the modern day slavery, and in reaction, the African Union, on November 17, 2017 called on the Libyan Authorities to investigate the matter”.

Contributing to the debate on the motion, some members of the House said that Nigerian government needed to adopt proactive measures to discourage the youth from embarking on needless journeys.

They equally harped on the urgent need to create jobs and the enabling environment for the youths to be gainfully employed at home.

For instance, Hon Nnenna Ukaje (Abia State) advised the youth to stay at home instead of dying abroad.

She said: “We need a lot of information and education to let our children know that life outside Nigeria is not necessary better than life in Nigeria.

“We need to also get the ECOWAS parliament in this.”

Also speaking, Hon. Emma Ogene (Lagos State) said that it was a sad moment for the country.

He however said that the unhealthy development was a wake up call for all levels of government to create jobs for the teeming unemployed youths.

“This is a very sad event. We should be ashamed of ourselves. We need to find out if parent are involved in the matter

“We need to call the Libaya Ambassador in Nigeria and ask him why they are selling our people.

“The solutions lies in the various levels of government in providing employment to our youths”.

Also contributing, Hon. Henry Ofongo (Bayelsa State) emphasized the need for enlightenment of the youth on the adventures.

“Some of them feel that Nigeria is too hard, too tough. What is the going doing about enlightenment?”, he said.

On his part, the Leader of the House, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila advised Nigerian parents against subjecting their house helps to inhuman treatments, saying it was also slavery.

“We are practicing the slavery here on our soil”, he said.

The committees on Human Rights, and Foreign Affairs were also given 4 weeks within which to work and report back to the House for further legislative action.

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