Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt
External auditors of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) have submitted three sets of financial reports that have brought the accounts of the Commission up to date.
The financial accounts were presented yesterday to the NDDC management by Mr. Funsho Owoyemi, the managing partner of the firm of chartered accountants that carried out the auditing exercise. While handing over the documents at the NDDC headquarters in Port Harcourt, he said that the financial report was now ready for the Auditor-General of the Federation.
The external auditor stated that the infractions that were earlier highlighted in the Auditor-General’s report of 2015 were properly captured in the financial statements, noting that the auditing was thorough and comprehensive.
He said: “We have achieved what seemed like an impossible task. We met a very difficult situation because the accounts had accumulated for many years. In spite of the difficulties, we successfully audited the accounts to bring the financial records up to date. It is remarkable that we did this within a very short period. This did not stop our doing a thorough job.”
Owoyemi said all matters that required more attention were highlighted for the NDDC management so that it would be properly guided to regularise its accounting processes.
He added: “We had to also go to the field to gather more information. So, the report is an amalgam of engineering, technical and accounting details. The report is quite instructive, very useful and comprehensive.”
Receiving the financial reports, the NDDC Acting Managing Director, Mrs. Ibim Semenitari, commended the external auditors for bringing the Commission’s financial records up to date. She said that the finance directorate of the Commission was now expected to prepare the documents that would aid the prompt delivery of the 2016 audit report.
The NDDC boss expressed delight that the Commission was now posting its quarterly reports on its website regularly. This practice, according to her, had ensured that the Commission was disciplined and transparent in its processes. “It has also helped us to tighten our internal controls,” she stated.
Semenitari said, “We will quickly make our inputs to the report before forwarding it to the Auditor-General of the Federation. We will also encourage our finance directorate to prepare the papers to ensure that the 2016 audit is done in time. With our quarterly reports now coming out on schedule, our audit of 2016 will be a lot easier because we have a bank of information to draw from.
“We have been able to tighten controls and this has reflected in the difference between our records of 2015 and 2016. We now have a system that encourages better reporting of our financial activities. As we learn from some of the lapses that have pointed out, the commission will continue to get better in its accounting.”
In a related development, the 2016 NDDC In-house Rates Review Committee, submitted Operational Manuals for Project Monitoring and Supervision as well as in-house rates for the Commission.
The chairman of the committee and the Director Project Management Department, Mr. Fredrick Ogbeide, observed that operational manual would enhance the execution of NDDC projects, noting that it was one of the measures taken by the Commission to ensure the maintenance of standards.
He said the operational manual and the in-house rates would help the Commission to promote transparency and accountability.
Ogbeide said the manual articulated the implementation plan for the execution of NDDC projects, including the necessity to attach engineers to every project.
He stressed the need for partnership with university laboratories across the Niger Delta to ensure quality control, reliability and sustainability.
Laboratory confirmation tests, he said, would be carried out before the take-off of projects. For Imo and Abia states, the Civil Engineering Laboratory at the Federal University of Technology, Owerri would be used, while for Ondo State projects, the Federal University of Technology, Akure would be relied upon.
He added that the University of Port Harcourt would take care of Rivers and Bayelsa states projects, while Edo and Delta states projects would go to the University of Benin. Similarly, Akwa Ibom and Cross River projects would have their tests at the Federal University, Uyo.