Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
The Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation monday told the Senate Committee on Public Accounts that Niger Delta Development Commission NDDC contracts are largely being handled by corrupt and mindless contractors, as it disclosed that between 2008 and 2012, such unscrupulous contractors disappeared with N70 billion as mobilisation fees without appearing at their various sites.
It said no fewer than 1,733 contractors were involved in the scam.
Making this disclosure before the committee, Mr. Emmanuel Akpan, an Assistant Director, Public Accounts Committee Division in the office, on behalf of the Auditor-General of the Federation, Mr. Sam Ukura, said when the office queried the NDDC over the development, it claimed the amount was N11 billion and not N70,495, 993,761.
“The real value of contracts upon which monies have been collected by NDDC contractors during the period under review as at the time of auditing, it was N70.4 billion and not N11 billion as the NDDC office is claiming now. There is need for NDDC officials to practically prove that contractors involved in close to N60 billion gap they are trying to create have actually gone to site and executed their projects not on paper but physically on ground,” he said.
Whereas the submission of Akpan was corroborated by the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation, the NDDC’s acting Managing Director, Mrs. Ibim Semenitari, denied it, saying the records available to the commission only showed that the value of projects affected was N11 billion and not N70 billion.
Also speaking, NDDC’s Director of Finance, Jimoh Egbejule, said the commission, after auditing various projects awarded during the period under review, insisted that the said scam affected only N11 billion worth of projects and not N70.4billion as submitted by the Office of the Auditor- General.
The denial then compelled the committee chairman, Senator Andy Uba, to adjourn the meeting for one month to enable the various parties making submissions at the meeting to go back and make proper reconciliation before returning to the committee.
He said the committee was displeased by the conflicting submissionss.
“There is need to stop this public hearing abruptly so as to allow the three parties time to sit down and harmonize their findings and reports on the subject matter. Definitely, this committee is not satisfied with what has happened but we have to give them time to meet and harmonize whatever they can harmonize before coming back to us to present their updated reports upon which we can now do the proper probings without one agency saying, it doesn’t have the reports the other is presenting and so on and so for.
“Unfortunately, the new MD did not know anything. She didn’t understand what was going on. They didn’t carry her along but I am glad that she’s willing to work. She’s ready to go through it with a fine tooth-comb line by line with the auditor-general and accountant general to make sure that there is prompt response to the queries. But I am glad that today, in one months’ time, I am sure we would know the truth about the whole differences,” he said.
Responding, Semenitari assured the committee that they would ensure that proper reconciliation was done within the next one month as she expressed optimism that the truth would be unravelled within the period.
“We would respond in all honesty with all of the documentations before us but like I said, there might have been some errors here and there because they didn’t see all of the documentations. It’s too early to decide what it might be. I am sure by the time they respond fully, we would be able to show Nigerians facts as they are. Again, like I told you, we would not shield any contractor who hasn’t done his job. We would not shield anyone who has to be indicted. This is a new administration and we are committed to transparency,” she assured.