Chineme Okafor in Abuja
The Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) has said that between 2007 and 2014, a period of seven years, the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) got $1.98 billion and N594 billion remitted to it, but cannot account for how N7.4 billion allocated for grassroots development projects was spent.
Pledging to work with the commission to enthrone transparency and accountability in its operations, NEITI also asked the new board and management of the NDDC to carry out an independent project implementation audit, in addition to committing its operations to good corporate governance and the principles of the global Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI).
The Executive Secretary of NEITI, Mr. Waziri Adio, in a presentation he made at a retreat of NDDC in Port Harcourt, also suggested to the NDDC to carry out a corruption risk assessment which would enable it develop a framework to strengthen its operations.
A statement from NEITI monday in Abuja, stated that Adio was represented at the retreat by its Director of Communications, Dr. Orji Ogbonnaya Orji.
He said the NDDC and NEITI were set up with similar mandates targeted at addressing the syndrome of resource curse, but that over the years, public perception of NDDC was more of an agency with huge revenue resources but with little impact on the lives of the people of the Niger Delta.
He noted that a breakdown of the financial remittances to NDDC showed that it received N594 billion from 2007 to 2011 while $559 million was paid to the commission in 2012.
NEITI said in 2013, the NDDC received $563 million while in 2014, the sum of $865 million was remitted to it.
It added that from its Fiscal Allocation and Statutory Disbursement Audit Report which covered 2007 to 2011, the sum of N7.4 billion allocated to member states of the NDDC for grassroots development projects in the respective states could not be accounted for while 22 of such projects valued at N1.19 billion were duplicated.
The statement said the Managing Director of the NDDC, Mr. Nsima Ekere, welcomed the emerging partnership between NEITI and the NDDC and pledged to use the NEITI reports to enthrone accountability and corporate governance in the agency.
Ekere also gave the assurance that the NDDC under the new board and management would embrace the principles of the EITI to reverse the resource curse syndrome in the Niger Delta through efficient resource utilisation, corporate governance and project delivery.