The attention of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, has been drawn to yet another set of false allegations of corruption against the Commission. Coming few days after the Commission went to extraordinary lengths to counter false allegations of corruption in its operations in the past three months, it beats our imagination if there will ever be a time the NDDC would be allowed by its detractors to focus on its work. One day after another, one group of faceless ‘stakeholders’ or the other, who are mere fronts for those who looted the resources of the Commission in the past, make wild and improbable allegations against the Commission
In the past, they had recourse to online platforms since no mainstream medium would publish allegations without facts. It is, therefore, worrying that these enemies of the Niger Delta (for that is the best description for those who are bent on destroying the NDDC) have now found allies in the mainstream media.
The detractors of the Commission are now hiding under the resolution of the National Assembly to trash the reputation of the Interim Management Committee, IMC. We wish to state that there is no N40 billion fraud in NDDC. As stated last week, the total sum received by the IMC is N33 billion, out of which it has spent N22 billion. The expenditure includes payment of staff salaries, service providers debts and contractual debts of N50 million and below.
The questions are: Can N40 billion be stolen when it did not exist? Is the payment of staff salaries and benefits, an act of corruption? Should poor helpless contractors who worked for the Commission and were being owed for more than five years not be paid sums as low as N1 million?
The Commission concedes that the National Assembly has a constitutional right to investigate its operations, if and when it deems it necessary. However, we find allegations, which have no substance and serve no purpose other than generating adverse newspaper headlines unhelpful. These baseless allegations pose grave threat to the success of the forensic audit of the NDDC, directed by President Muhammadu Buhari, following widespread request by stakeholders, including Governors of the Niger Delta States.
It is on record that President Buhari directed that the NDDC forensic audit, which has been widely applauded as a crucial move and the only process that can cleanse NDDC, be overseen by the IMC. However, jittery perpetrators and beneficiaries of the old order that almost killed the NDDC have been relentlessly ascribing all manner of spurious misdeeds to the IMC in their selfish bid to hang the IMC and stultify the forensic audit.
We welcome the inquiry and invite the public to patiently wait for its outcome. In addition, we insist that the National Assembly session with the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio and the IMC be an open one. We are ready to defend our activities. In order to put these matters to rest, we are asking for a public hearing televised live so Nigerians can directly appreciate the hard work and determination of the present IMC to make the Commission fit for purpose. This will also provide the public an opportunity to know the truth about what is going on in NDDC. It will enable them see through the charade of unceasing false allegations designed to truncate the forensic audit of the NDDC.
It is also pertinent we invite the public to note that the IMC is not unmindful that aggrieved culprits and receivers of the longstanding plunder of the Commission’s resources are extremely perturbed with some recent decisions of the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs and the IMC. Top among the so-called sins of the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs and the IMC are refusal to make payments for outrageous and fictitious de-silting jobs, stoppage of ghost payments for questionable training programmes and discontinuation of phantom payments through faceless non-governmental organisations. In addition, the erstwhile bazaar of phoney contracts has come to an end.
The Commission will go to the public hearing with records of the phoney contracts that the IMC has been under pressure to pay, the refusal of which is triggering the current spate of attacks.
Finally, we want to reiterate our unyielding determination to manage the forensic audit of the NDDC in an extremely transparent manner. No amount of malicious and selfish campaign to stand truth on its head will dissuade the IMC from delivering on its mandate. The great people of the Niger Delta – and all other well-intentioned stakeholders – should please disregard unfounded allegations and rest assured that the forensic audit is on course, to pave the way for the birth of a stronger and more responsive NDDC.
Charles Obi Odili
Director, Corporate Affairs
May 8, 2020