Friday, 22 January, 2021

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NDDC: Senate begins probe •N81bn financial recklessness allegation unacceptable –Lawan


The Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), yesterday, came under fire for spending N81 billion between October 2019 to May 2020. 

While the Senate acknowledged the discrepancies in the funds spent by IMC, it, however, disclosed that from the document it presented to them, it shows that N81 billion was spent.

It said the record of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) revealed that the IMC spent N92 billion, Accountant General record showed N82 billion, while the IMC record shown N81 billion.

Analysing how the N81 billion was spent, according to the record made available, Chairman of Senate Adhoc Committee on NDDC, Olubunmi Adetunmbi, said staffing related payment in NDDC is N20.9 billion including salaries and other allowances.

He added that while N1.3 billion was spent for community relation, N122 million was spent for condolences, N83.8 million for consultancy, N3.14 billion for COVID-19, N486million for duty tour, N790million for impress, N1.9 billion for Lassa Fever, N900million for legal services, N61 million for logistics, N85.6 million for oversea travel between February to May, N38.6 billion for projects payment, N1.12billion for public communication, N744 millon for security, N56.5 million for travels, N248.9 million for engagement of stakeholders, among others.

Of the total sum of N81 billion, the Senate committee said that while IMC (1) spent N22. 5 billion, IMC (2) spent N59.1 billion.

The lawmaker added that N10 million was given to one staff, N7 million to two staff, 148 staff got N3 million each, 157 staff got 1.5 million each, 497 staff got N1 million  each and 464 staff got N500 thousand each as welfare for COVlD-19.

The Managing Director of NDDC, Prof. Keme Pondei, who was fielding questions from the lawmakers, acknowledged the financial spending.

During its presentation on how projects were carried out in the NDDC, the IMC indicted members of the National Assembly in the alleged financial recklessness in the NDDC.

Narrating the development in NDDC, the Executive Director, Project, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh, said because of their refusal for members of the National Assembly to hijack the Commission, they were been painted black so that President Muhammadu Buhari would sack them.

Speaking on behalf of the NDDC, Ojougboh said that all the projects carried out in the NDDC were done transparently, adding that the National Assembly has its knees on the neck of the commission.

He noted that it is very necessary to make the general public know about what is actually happening in the Commission.

Dr.  Ojuigbo said there is a perception that the National Assembly has always been against the Interim Management Committee to create confusion that will make the executive sack the committee.

Declaring the investigative hearing open earlier, the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, said the allegations of financial recklessness and misappropriation of funds leveled against the Interim Management Committee of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) are unacceptable hence the decision by the Senate to investigate the activities of the Commission.

The Senate president, who underscored the need for the prudent application of public funds by Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Government (MDAs), emphasised that same had become imperative in view of scarce income at the disposal of the Federal Government.

“Financial recklessness is not an attribute that anyone can afford, whether rich or poor. It is even worse with the poor, or for the organisation or a country with limited resources.

“This is the reason we have always highlighted the need for prudence in the application of public resources. The time when public resources is seen as nobody’s resources is long gone.  We are in trying times, when we all have to be concerned about judicious use of scarce incomes.

“The NDDC is an important statutory agency that is supposed to improve the lot of the Niger Delta community. It is therefore unacceptable to hear about inappropriate use of resources, or outright financial recklessness,” Lawan said.

According to Lawan, the weighty allegations of misappropriation  of public funds to the tune of N81 billion by the IMC prompted the upper chamber to investigate the Commission.

While urging stakeholders present at the hearing to cooperate with the Ad-Hoc Committee, Lawan assured the public of the Senate’s commitment to fairness and transparency in the discharge of its constitutional responsibility.

Credit- The Sun

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