Poor man de suffer, monkey de work baboon de chop
One cannot help but notice the accusations, counter accusations and show of shame currently going on in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) – an institution supposedly set up for the development of the oil-rich Niger Delta Region. Unfortunately, from its inception, the NDDC has been turned to a ‘come chop’ venture by its management, public officials and their private accomplices. In recent times, there are shocking allegations of misappropriation and bare-faced fraud and looting between the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the Commission, the immediate former board of the Commission, National Assembly and concerned stakeholders.
Fortunately or unfortunately, the head of the former board NDDC, Ekere Nsima (who was the APC candidate in the 2019 Governorship election in Akwa Ibom State) was also a Deputy Governor to the current Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godwill Akpabio (in his first term as Akwa Ibom State Governor). It is the same Minister that is overseeing the activities of the IMC which was set up by President Muhammadu Buhari for the main purpose of overseeing a forensic audit of the Commission.
The question then is, can Senator Akpabio altruistically supervise the IMC and the forensic audit of the NDDC? Can an IMC handpicked by the Minister for the President really to probe his former deputy, or look into the affairs of his party members? You guess is your guess, so leave my guess out of it, as it was even alleged, in some quarters, that some of the funds purportedly being audited by the forensic auditors under the IMC were used to prosecute the 2019 general elections. I don’t know about the true state of affairs.
However one thing is clear and certain in all of it all. The NDDC is a cesspool of continuing huge corruption.
Don’t ask me how, just follow me;
The Interim Management Committee IMC upon inauguration alleged that while carrying on the forensic audit of the activities of the former board of the Commission it discovered that;
N3.7B was paid for the supply of plastic chairs, and that the address of delivery of the same chairs was the same warehouse of purchase. Round trip purchase you could say.
The same IMC also alleged that NDDC 2019 budget was padded with almost 500 new projects by members of the National Assembly. Padi padding arrangement.
But whilst the dust was yet to settle on the the allegations; some documents surfaced from some whistleblower NGO which reveals that in the 2019 budget for the Commission, passed before the inauguration of the IMC, N800M was earmarked as contingency funds for regional road repairs, but in a request for virement, made to the National Assembly by the IMC, which request, by the provisions of the Act setting up the NDDC is illegal, the IMC claimed to have spent N25b instead as contingency funds in six months. N7b also was claimed by the IMC as funds on training of Niger Delta Youths on welding. The IMC also said it spent N3.4b on Enterprenueral development and N13b on the headquarters. These huge expenses were made within 6 months by the IMC whose role was just to oversee a forensic audit as expressly directed by the President.
With all of these humongous spending, you still wonder why there is still massive unemployment, kidnapping and youth restiveness in the region. Even if it’s free money you don’t spend it recklessly.
Now hear this;
On the 10th of January, 2020 a memo from the office of the Assistant Director of Health, requested for payment for some of the health and education projects files which was said to have been sent to the Ag MD, and was illustrated as purchase of maternal kits, N1.1b, Cholera vaccines N680m, Lassa Fever protective kits, N903m, Lassa Fever kits N1b N92m, and outstanding science equipment N292m
Again, On the 6th of April, 2020 during the lockdown, whilst the company was on lockdown, the Head of the Procurement Unit, for and on behalf of the acting MD awarded a contract to a company known as Signora Concept Services Ltd, for the purchase of emergency specialized medical personal protective equipment (PPE) for health workers and community based sensitization campaign against the spread of Covid 19 and other communicable diseases in the nine states of the Niger Delta for the sum of N5.5b
Same contract was awarded on the same day, for the same items, by the same person, to another company, Osmoserve Global Ltd to the tune of N4,86b
With all of these yet nobody got any palliatives as it was alleged that the Ag MD’s aide, a militant went away with N175m meant for palliatives. Hmmmmm, N10.3b to sensitize who na? Make una de fear God oo. No wonder some people have argued that this pandemic has been turned to Covid 419 by some government agencies.
Further, the whistleblower NGO has also revealed that during the COVID19 period when all Nigerians were virtually at home, the Acting Managing Director of the Commission and Head of the IMC was collecting N51M monthly for 2 consecutive months, that N102M for Hotel Bill! Other members of the IMC also received an average of N40M monthly ie, N80M! That is Mr President’s IMC in the NDDC – an arrangement which has no legal basis whatsoever in the NDDC Act.
From the foregoing, it’s visible to the blind and audible to the deaf that NDDC has become a big conduit for siphoning government fund and has been turned into a ComeChop instead of a developmental Commission. The IMC has serious questions to answer, and the earlier the government does something about it the better.
I would therefore advocate, that if the President is indeed sincere in cleansing the Augean stable, he does not need an interim management committee to do that, especially given the fact that members of the committee are neither auditors nor accountants and their tenure is illegal and open ended. No law backs their presence in the NDDC.
All the President needs is a reputable forensic auditor to transparently look into the books of the Commission, whilst giving the EFCC the requisite backing and marching order to immediately bring to book anyone found culpable, be him a senator, minister, management or casual staff even contractors who collected monies for jobs not executed. That way he would not only have shown strength of character to fight corruption, but would be sending a strong signal to others that he is indeed aware and sincere in fighting corruption. otherwise, the government should forever stop the noise about the fight against corruption, as its people are neck deep in it.
Let’s continue to advocate for a better society with our voices.
@ Liborous Oshoma Esq.