House Uncovers N81bn Spent by NDDC in Five Months

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Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo

Adedayo Akinwale and Udora Orizu in Abuja

The House of Representatives Committee on Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) yesterday discovered that the NDDC has spent N81.5 billion on frivolous things from January to May this year.

Chairman of the House Committee, Hon. Olubumi Tunji-Ojo, who made the disclosure at the investigative hearing on alleged financial malfeasance in the NDDC, said the discovery was made after going through books submitted by both the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Auditor General of the Federation (OAGF).

The lawmaker gave breakdown of the expenditure as follows:-Community relations, N1.3 billion; condolences- N122.9 million; consultancy, N83 million; COVID-19, N3.14 billion; Duty Travel Allowance (DTA), N486 million; Impress, N790.9 million, and Laser fever, N1.956 billion.

Others are: Legal services, N900 million; maintenance, N220 million; overseas travel, N85.6 million; project public communication, N1.121 billion; security, N744 million; staffing-related payment, N8.8 billion, stakeholders’ engagement February 18 to May 31, 2020, N248 million.

He frowned at the non-submission of financial reports by NDDC and the frivolous expenditure of funds running into billions of naira without developmental benefits to the people of the Niger Delta region.

According to him, “The forensic audit ordered by the president in NDDC must have been premised on these critical questions, perhaps the unremitting cry of the people in the region and the need to see maximum value for successive allocations, and that underscores the reason this House rightly recognised the need to appropriate fund for the exercise when the commission failed to reflect this in the its 2019 budget estimates.

“The all-important audit is believed to be ongoing, albeit must be without needless controversies and disconnecting allegations of corruption, hence, the need for us as a committee to be thorough, patriotic and unbiased in the national call to duty.”

He also faulted CBN, Accountant-General of the Federation and the Auditor-General of the Federation for allegedly approving the spending of N81.5 billion on audit of the agency during the period under review.

Meanwhile, the members of the NDDC Interim Management Committee (IMC) were absent at the investigative hearing.

Tunji-Ojo said the commission in a letter to them by the acting managing director said they would not able to appear at the hearing due to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, and appealed that their appearance be rescheduled.

Consequently, the committee directed the NDDC IMC to appear before it today unfailingly.