.Orders Forensic Audit Of NDDC Operations
. Experts Want New Board to Supervise Audit
By Hamilton Nwosa
President Muhammadu Buhari Thursday in Abuja ordered a forensic audit of the operations of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC). While receiving governors of the states that make up the Commission, led by Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State on Thursday in Abuja, President Buhari said what is presently on the ground in the South south region does not justify the huge resources that have been made available to the organization.
Mr Femi Adesina, Presidential Spokesman, quoted President Buhari in a Statement released from his Office as expressing disappointment with the current state of operations at the NDDC vis-à-vis the volume of funds that have been pumped into the interventionist agency. “I try to follow the Act setting up these institutions especially the NDDC. With the amount of money that the Federal Government has religiously allocated to the NDDC, we will like to see the results on the ground; those that are responsible for that have to explain certain issues. The projects said to have been done must be verifiable. You just cannot say you spent so much billions and when the place is visited, one cannot see the structures that have been done. The consultants must also prove that they are competent, “the President said.
It would be recalled that the Presidency had been angered with reports of messy water hyacinth amounting to about N1.9bn purportedly approved and paid to phoney, brief case companies with links to Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio. The controversial payments which were in clear breach of Presidential directive and violation of extant procurement rules were said to have alarmed top Presidency Officials and top hierarchy of the ruling APC including Adams Oshiomhole who promised to sanction Akpabio for the alleged administrative misadventure. (See The New Diplomat Report)
President Buhari admitted that developing the Niger Delta area required enormous resources compared to other parts of the country with firmer lands.“I am acutely aware, with my experience, that projects in your area are very expensive; that is why if any job is given, we must make sure that the company is competent and has the capacity to do it well with experienced consultants,” the President added.
In their swift reaction, global experts and stakeholders in the Niger Delta are elated with the presidential directive on forensic audit. They however urged President Buhari to quickly put the newly named Board headed by Dr Pius Odubu ( Chairman) and Olorogun Bernard Okumagba (MD) in place since they have never been part of the NDDC in the past to help supervise the audit. Dr James Hafferson of University of California USA, who has written variously on the Niger Delta region has this to say while lauding Buhari’s bold move: “ It’s a very laudable and encouraging move. Stakeholders like us are elated but in carrying out the audit, it has to be supervised by a new Board, the New Board that has never been part of the rot in the past. You don’t expect acting MD or bureaucrats who have been part of the rot in the past to supervise that audit…The auditing team will have to work independently with a team and that team, in my view should be the newly named Board. That is the standard practice globally.”
Governor Dickson had earlier expressed the disappointment of other governors with the operations of the NDDC, which they said was characterised by poor choice of projects, shoddy handling, uncompleted jobs and lack of the required support for the efforts of the states and local government administration in the region covered by the organisation.