NIGERIA: The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has been accused of poorly executing unverified over 13,000 projects in the region despite the N6 trillion allocation it received from 2001 to 2019.
The Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami had said at the presentation of the report on the forensic audit of the NDDC where he represented the Nigeria President, Muhammadu Buhari’s.
The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) is an interventionist agency set up in 2000 to see to the development of the oil-rich Niger Delta region and tackle the ecological problems arising from oil production activities in the mandate states.
It would be recalled that President Buhari had in August 2019 ordered the forensic audit of the agency, in response to what Malami called “the yearnings of the people of Niger Delta region to reposition it for effective service delivery”.
Malami said, “The federal government is particularly concerned with the colossal loss occasioned by uncompleted and unverified development projects in the Niger Delta region, in spite of the huge resources made available to uplift the living standard of the citizens”.
Details of the Report
The AGF while commending the auditors for their work said all aspects of the report submitted would be strategically implemented without hesitation adding that the President had directed his ministry to conduct a legal review of the report to ensure that justice is carried out.
“Criminal investigations, prosecution, and recovery of diverted funds would be initiated against suspected looters of the agency’s funds.
“It is evident that considerable resources have been channelled by the Federal Government to the development of the Niger Delta from 2001 to 2019.
“Within 19 years, from 2001 and 2019, the federal government approved over N3.3 trillion to the agency as budgetary allocation and N2.4trillion as “income from statutory and non-statutory sources. Which brings the total figure to the sum of approximately six trillion Naira given to the Niger Delta Development Commission,” he said.
The Minister who shocked participants at the event revealed that “We have on record over 13,777 projects, the execution of which is substantially compromised.
” Apart from poorly executed or non-execution of contracts, the federal government is also concerned with the multitudes of Niger Delta Development Commission’s bank accounts amounting to 362 and lack of proper reconciliation of accounts”.
Reason for the report
The Commission, according to reports from the region, has generally fallen short of meeting the expectations of the people of the nine mandate states of Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Imo, Ondo, and Rivers.
In the last 20 years since it was established, the Commission has been riddled with serious corruption allegations and failed to deliver on its mandate for the people of the Niger Delta region.
The AGF said the President had directed that the audit report be forwarded to the Federal Ministry of Justice “for a legal review and relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government will be engaged in doing justice to the findings accordingly.”
Malami said criminal investigations, prosecution, and recovery of improperly used funds would be initiated but he didn’t give a specific time for the investigation.
“The federal government will, in consequence, apply the law to remedy the deficiencies outlined in the audit report as appropriate.
“This will include but is not limited to the initiation of criminal investigations, prosecution, recovery of funds not properly utilized for the public purposes for which they were meant for review of the laws to reposition and restructure the NDDC for the efficiency of better service delivery amongst others.
“In all these instances of actions, legal due processes will strictly be complied with,” he said.
The Minister added that the essence of the forensic audit carried out on the NDDC “is to ensure probity and accountability in the use of public funds.”
“It is against this background that the Federal Government will without hesitation strategically implement all aspects of the audit exercise that will promote probity and greater prosperity for the Niger Delta Region and Nigeria as whole,” he said.
About Niger Delta Region
The level of poverty and general deprivation suffered by the people of Niger Delta is at odds with their profile as the region that produces the oil which serves as the mainstay of the Nigeria’s economy.
Niger-Delta people’s long-suffering condition is largely attributable to official corruption at various levels.
Since 2007, two former Governors of states in the region – the late Diepreye Alamieyesegha of Bayelsa State and James Ibori of Delta State – have been convicted of money laundering involving funds they stole from their people.
Some other former governors from the region are under criminal investigation.
Cases of funds diversion and poorly executed contracts are rife in the NDDC, which is supposed to apply funds directly allocated to it by the federal government to develop the region.
But officials have only become rich at the expense of the long-suffering and poverty-stricken people of the Niger Delta, resulting in myriads of environmental hazards that deprive them of potable water and means of livelihood, mainly fishing and farming.