Anyone who truly opposes corruption would cringe at the fact that billions of dollars has been swooped in reckless spending spree in a few months without demonstrable impact on the Niger Delta region. Following recent developments from the Senate probe and reports from the Niger Delta Development Commission-NDDC, the media has been awash with absurd findings against the Interim Management Committee-IMC over alleged corrupt misappropriation in the NDDC through various fronts. The findings of the Senate report expressly reveal the level of deep seated corruption going on in the commission.
The Senate report contained various cases of administrative malfeasance and financial recklessness in the NDDC. Instances are; the N3.175 billion spent by IMC as palliatives on Covid-19, the IMC allegedly misappropriated and embezzled N6.2 billion, the payment of special imprest unknown to law, the incurred IMC N808.9 million imprest during covid-19 lockdown, the Acting MD Prof. Daniel Pondei and other top management supposedly sharing of N4.9 Billion for Medical Checkups. All these misappropriations can be regrettably described as a show of shame and rot that has been ongoing in the Commission.
More so, concerns that the unchecked financial malfeasance by the managers Niger Delta Commission would continue, we call on the National Assembly to immediately suspend all awards of contracts and procurement in Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC). This is necessary as the Commission’s activities have violated all relevant procurement laws and repeatedly violated various sections of the Public Procurement Act of 2007. It is glaring that they failed to follow due process as there are evidently no approved procurement plans in their dealings as most of the contracts are not advertised, and the contractors are not selected based on eligibility. For instance, the River Desilting and Covid-19 supplies did not go through laid down procurement guidelines. Therefore, suspending all procurements will ensure that a proper account is given for the various amounts squandered by the Commission and also measure the budget performance. If it becomes necessary to spend any money, it should be for the execution of projects in the Niger Delta region. A procedural method should be initiated for approval and spending strictly followed by detailed evidential receipts of such spending. This initiative will promote the use of approved annual budget as the principal tool and authorization for all its expenditures. It is obvious from the various expenditures on projects unrelated to the mandate of the NDDC, the commission has shown disregard for its budget, as several expenditure items were done without reference to budget provisions. This will check the current practice of recurrent and derailed expenditures.
The fight against corruption in Nigeria and the commission is an overwhelming task, but the enormity of the challenge cannot dampen the spirit. While we welcome the Senate report, as keen observers of the NDDC, we believe that influential individuals who benefitted from the contract awards and are afraid that they might be exposed by the report and forensic audit, are likely to make moves to thwart the process. We therefore call on the National Assembly to resist any interference and personal interest that may scuttle the process. It could be recalled that in 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari said ‘If Nigeria does not kill corruption, corruption will kill Nigeria” The President should match his words with action and implement the resolutions of the Senate report. The report detailed the humongous fraud that has been going on at the NDDC, and presents some solutions for the Commission. We all know that the senate report on its own will not send anyone to jail. So we strongly demand for a proper conclusion of the Senate report and the forensic audit with those found guilty punished accordingly. Any other thing short of this would amount to media buzz, waste of time and loss for the Nigeria people.
For further enquiries, kindly contact the SOCIAL ACTION Communications Team Lead, on: lillian[at]saction.org