Ndubuisi Francis in Abuja
The federal government yesterday expressed a resolve to conduct a forensic audit on the over N2 trillion debt profile of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC),
The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, who spoke during a meeting with the management of the commission in Abuja, said the essence of the impending audit was to unearth the real and imagined obligations of the commission.
He revealed that a forensic analysis and audit was underway, adding that no stone would be left unturned to redirect the commission to perform.
Akpabio, who expressed disappointment at the complete derailment of the NDDC from its core mandate of developing the region, warned that under his watch, it would not be business as usual.
According to him, the era of politically-motivated contracts was over, warning the management to purge itself of past misdeeds.
Akpabio, who lamented that a combination of personal interest, political interference and sundry ills had torpedoed the commission from achieving its set goals in the last two years, said he was on a rescue mission and warned that any impendiment to refocus NDDC would be pulled down.
One of the signature tunes of the Commission’s failure, he noted, was the inability to complete its corporate headquarters in Port Harcourt, Rivers State 20 years after creation, beginning from the days of its progenitor–the Oil Minerals Producing Areas Commission (OMPADEC).
According to Akpabio, it was unacceptable that while the NDDC is unable to complete its headquarters, it pays between N200 million and N300 million on a rented office accommodation
Conversely, the minister pointed out that the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), which was only created a few years back is on the verge of inaugurating its 16-floor corporate edifice in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.
“Let me tell you my mind. We will try to stop you from keeping your headquarters for 20 years without commissioning it. We will also stop you from paying between N200 millon to N300 million.”
The minister, who threw intermittent tantrums at the members of the management of NDDC, noted that while they looked well-fed and robust, the region has not fared as well.
He noted that since its inception, the commission left no legacy projects in the nine Niger Delta States, a development, he said, was a source of concern to President Muhammadu Buhari.
Akpabio told the commission’s top management that a forensic audit was in the office to scrutinise the commission’s income and expenditure from 2000 to date as well as the purported N2 trillion debt obligation.
The impending audit, he said, will involve the Department of State Services (DSS), Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC), among others.
“President Muhammadu Buhari is poised and committed to redirecting and refocusing the Niger Delta Ministry as well as the NDDC so as the give the region a facelift.
“You should be worried that I am the one that is here because we will do a forensic analysis and audit. We will try to go backwards from year 2000 to date to ascertain what came, what was sent and why there are no tangible results on ground.”
“It’s important to inform you that before coming to you, we met with your financial agencies and have instructed them to stop all payment you have made.
“As I speak to you, banks have been asked to refund all payments you have made in the last one month so as to ascertain if there was asset-stripping as a result of lack of leadership, pending the upcoming board.
“When this is done, we will realign your programme and change your modus operandi.
“The NDDC has not performed well. Yes, you may not have not failed your family but you have failed the region. There are lots of complaints from over 400 real youths who were engaged to clean water hyacinth for between N500,000 to N1 million ten years ago that are yet to be paid. I tell you that those that have been paid are political youths.
“This is a time for sober reflection . Ask yourselves; despite receiving salaries and emoluments, how have I impacted on our region? How have I and the NDDC fared? Where are we today and where are we heading?”
He added: “Considering the environmental threats caused by oil activities in the region, I don’t understand why we shouldn’t have at least one specialist hospital. May be , a Cancer Centre.
Earlier, the Minister of State, Festus Keyamo lamented that the original concept of the NDDC has been changed to a conduit of empowering the pockets of politicians.
“Henceforth, we will not allow you do things the way you used to do. We are out to exercise the powers of Mr. President which has been transferred to us over you. It won’t be business as usual, but business unusual. “
Responding, the Director, supervising the NDDC , Mrs. Akwaggaga Enya pledged the commission’s resolve to cooperate with the ministry in its desperate bid to rewrite the wrongs in the region.