Tuesday’s report on President Buhari’s request for a forensic audit of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) was submitted on Thursday.
It was revealed on Thursday that despite receiving over N6trillion in funding from 2001 to 2019 from the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), it has over 13,000 poorly executed and unverified projects.
Even though there are vast resources available to improve the lives of citizens, Mr. Abubakar Malami said that the federal government is particularly concerned about colossal losses caused by uncompleted and unverified development projects in Niger Delta.
During the presentation of the report on the NDDC’s forensic audit, Mr. Malami spoke on behalf of President Muhammadu Buhari.
“The Niger Delta region’s yearning for effective service delivery” prompted President Buhari in August to order a forensic audit.
He praised the auditors and promised that all aspects of their report would be “strategic” implemented “without hesitation” Mr. Malami noted that the President had directed his ministry to conduct a legal review of the report to ensure “justice is done”
Suspected looters of the agency’s funds would be subject to criminal investigations and prosecutions, as well as efforts to recover diverted funds.
While the Buhari administration, which hasn’t appointed an agency’s governing board since 2015, has supervised the NDDC for the last four years of its 19-year existence, according to the auditors.
NDDC projects and funds
National Development and Cooperation Agency, or NDDC, is a non-profit organization that was established in 2000 to promote economic development in oil-rich Niger Delta and to address environmental issues arising from oil production activities in the mandate states.
General expectations of people in the nine mandate states – Abia, Akwa Ibom Bayelsa Cross River, Delta, Ondo, Imo, Ondo and Rivers – have not been met by the agency in most cases.
As it enters its second decade, the agency has been plagued by unresolved corruption allegations that have undermined its ability to carry out its mandate to the people of Niger Delta.
Since 2001, the federal government has devoted significant resources to Niger Delta development, Mr. Malami said.
A total of N3.3 trillion in budgetary allocation and N2.4 trillion in “income from statutory and non-statutory sources” have been approved by the federal government in the 19 years between 2001 and 2019.
That brings the total given to the Niger Delta Development Commission, according to him, to “approximately six trillion Naira.”
Yet despite all of this, “we have over 13,777 projects on record whose execution is substantially compromised”, according to the minister
Other than contracts that were poorly or never executed, Mr Malami pointed out that the agency had 362 bank accounts, resulting in an inability to properly reconcile accounts.
the Niger Delta Development Commission has a total of 362 bank accounts that are not properly reconciled,” Mr. Malami said.
It’s time to act
It was ordered by President Obama to be forwarded to Federal Ministry of Justice “for a legal review, and relevant Ministries, Departments & Agencies of Government will be engaged in doing justice to the findings accordingly,” Malami said.
While Mr. Malami did not provide a timeline, he did say that criminal investigations, prosecutions, and the recovery of improperly used funds would be started immediately.
Accordingly, the federal government will use the law to correct any deficiencies outlined in the audit report.
Some of these measures include, but are not limited to: initiating criminal investigations; bringing criminal charges; recovering public funds that have not been properly utilized; reviewing laws; and restructuring the National Development and Development Commission (NDDC) to improve service delivery efficiency, among others.
“Legal due process will be strictly adhered to in all of these instances,” he said.
The public should be properly informed about the NDDC’s expenditures, according to Mr Malami.
To ensure “probity and accountability in the use of public funds,” he said, the NDDC’s forensic audit is essential.
With that in mind,” he said,”the Federal Government will strategically implement all aspects of the audit exercise that will promote probity and greater prosperity for both Nigeria’s Niger Delta Region and the entire country.
There were 16 audit firms in total, according to Mr Malami, with a security committee in charge of ensuring the safety of the audit firms and their personnel during this exercise.
One who suffers for the sake of producing gold
As the oil-producing region of Nigeria, the Niger Delta’s people suffer from extreme poverty and deprivation.
The people of Niger-Delta have suffered for a long time because of official corruption at all levels.
After being convicted for money laundering, two former governors of Bayelsa and Delta states have been sentenced to prison terms. Diepreye Alamieyesegha and James Ibori were sentenced in 2007.
Other former governors from the region are being investigated for crimes.
Defective contracts and diversion of funds plague the NDDC, which is supposed to use federal funds directly allocated for the region’s economic development.
A number of environmental hazards have resulted in a lack of potable water and means of livelihood, such as fishing or farming. However, officials have become rich at the expense of the long-suffering and poverty-stricken people in the Niger Delta.