Acting Managing Director of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) Prof. Daniel Pondei is hopeful the commision’s forensic audit would resolve years of decay and underdevelopment in Niger Delta.

Pondei spoke at a two-day training organised by Clearpoint Communications for 10 specialists in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

He said the audit followed a request by governors of the nine Niger Delta states.

In a statement, Director of Corporate Affairs Charles Odili said the forensic exercise would highlight NDDC’s strength and weaknesses, and not meant to witch-hunt.

“I am happy you are being trained today to give strategic communication support to the forensic audit teams in the nine Niger Delta states. The assignment of the audit team is to evaluate and examine the commission’s financial records.

“In September 2019, when governors of Niger Delta states visited President Muhammadu Buhari, they highlighted the need for an audit of NDDC’s account so that we can see what we have done with what we have received so far.

‘’… NDDC needs to know where it stands, not just in the court of public opinion, but in the essence of the organisation. That is why this is important, so that we can take positive steps towards getting positive results, Odili said.

“The audit would highlight the areas of strength and point out the areas of weaknesses. This is very important because it is high time Niger Delta took a dynamic leap into the future. Why this project is important is because whenever Niger Delta is sick, the country would be sick.”

Deputy Director (Corporate Affairs) Chijioke Amu-Nnadi, who delivered a paper ‘The NDDC, Facts, Figures and Falsehood’, noted that Niger Delta, which is the third largest delta region on earth, with a population of 31.2 million, was the least developed region in Nigeria.

Amu-Nnadi explained that while the natural resources from Niger Delta made Nigeria the sixth largest oil producer in the world, 70 per cent of the people lived below poverty line.

He said indices of development – education, health, sanitation, job creation, water and other infrastructure – were far below acceptable standards.

He said: “To address this unfortunate paradox, the Federal Government established NDDC, through an Act of the National Assembly, to cater for the needs of the nine states…

“To implement its mandate, NDDC at inception, adopted a two-pronged strategy, an interim action plan under which abandoned projects would be completed and new ones executed to douse prevalent tension and a regional master plan that will be a roadmap for integrated, long-term development.

‘’Over two million patients have been treated in NDDC Free Healthcare Mission, a figure that far outweighs numbers typically treated by some of the best hospitals yearly…”

TheNation