In what a prominent member of the Delta State House of Assembly described as “evidence that Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan has lost focus,” the governor yesterday sent a letter to the state legislature asking it to screen nominees for confirmation and appointment into various boards of state-owned agencies and parastatals.
Several legislators told SaharaReporters that they were taken aback by the governor’s letter since Mr. Uduaghan had three months ago inaugurated the same boards. “Why did His Excellency send us names of nominees for state boards for screening and confirmation when the boards were inaugurated by the same governor some months ago?” one of the state lawmakers wondered. The legislator added that the governor had inaugurated the boards without first forwarding the names of their members to the state assembly for vetting and approval, as demanded by law.
A letter titled “Request For Confirmation Of Nomination Of Chairmen And Members Of Certain Boards” and personally signed by Governor Uduaghan was accompanied with a list of nominees to be screened for appointment into the Delta State Tourism Board, Delta Broadcasting Service, Warri; Delta Broadcasting Service, Asaba, and Delta State Rural Development Agency.
The governor’s letter read in part: “I wish to convey my sincere regards to you, the leadership and entire members of the Delta State House of Assembly and to use this opportunity to inform you that I have nominated certain persons to the offices of chairmen and members of the Delta State Rural Development Agency (RDA), Delta Broadcasting Service (Asaba and Warri) and Delta State Tourism Board respectively.
“In accordance with the powers conferred on you by the laws establishing the [agencies] and the respective boards, I am to request you to place the names of the nominees before the honorable members of the Delta State House of Assembly for consideration and confirmation as appropriate.”
In the words of another state legislator, “This was an ironic development since the four boards were among more than ten boards of government-owned agencies and parastatals inaugurated three months ago by Dr. Uduaghan at Government House, Asaba. After three months, the same Dr. Uduaghan is sending the names of members of the already inaugurated boards to the house for screening and confirmation.”
Several members of the state assembly decried Mr. Uduaghan’s illegal swearing-in of boards without first clearing the names of their members with the legislature. “Before such appointments and swearing in are done, the names of nominees should have been sent to the state house of assembly for screening and confirmation, but His Excellency blatantly failed to carry out this obligation before swearing in all the board chairmen and members,” a state lawmaker said.
During the swearing-in of the chairmen and members of the newly reconstituted boards, Mr. Uduaghan had charged them to use their wealth of experience to reposition the establishments to enable them to impact positively on the lives of state residents.
“Members of the boards have vast experience in various spheres of life and should bring their wealth of experience and knowledge to bear on the performance and achievements of the various agencies and parastatals. You should be able to reposition these agencies and parastatals so that they can achieve their set goals and objectives and impact meaningfully on the life of the people of the state,” the governor said.
Reacting to the governor’s letter, a House of Assembly member described Mr. Uduaghan as “a confused person who has lost focus concerning administration of the state.” He dismissed the governor’s letter as an afterthought.
Another visibly angry lawmaker said the governor’s action was akin to “acting before thinking when it’s supposed to be the other way around.” He lamented that the governor was able to get away with illegal acts “because many honorable members are his stooges.”
He added: “It’s very unfortunate, my brother. How would a state governor, after swearing in board chairmen and members into office for about three months without screening and confirmation by the Assembly, again send the same names to the Assembly for screening and confirmation for another swearing in? I must be honest with you: I pity the house. No wonder we are being addressed as rubberstamp House of Assembly. Anyone who dares to openly challenge the power-that-be will have all his entitlements withheld.”
Contacted on the issue, the Speaker of the Delta House of Assembly, Victor Ochei, said he was not aware that members of the various boards had been sworn in by the state governor because he was not there.
“I don’t know if they were sworn in. I wasn’t there. But the procedure, what the law prescribes, is what we will follow. If the law says that they should appear before the house they will appear before the house. I don’t think they have resumed [as board members]. I think they made that [inauguration] in error. I think the Secretary to the State Government wrote those affected not to resume or do anything until the proper thing is done,” said Mr. Ochei.
He added: “This could be an oversight on the side of the executive. And once you [make an] error, you must reverse yourself and make corrections. But the most important thing is that, if [a] mistake is made and it’s corrected, there is nothing wrong in that. We human beings make mistakes and you know it’s only God that is perfect.”
As mixed reactions greet the governor’s action within the state legislature, SaharaReporters learnt that the assembly has invited all affected nominees to appear before it with their credentials for screening.