The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, has reinstated that the Presidential directive on the forensic auditing of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, from its inception in 2001 to August 2019, is aimed at repositioning the Niger Delta region.
Akpabio, who made the disclosure in Abuja, said it is not just in furtherance of the present Administrations policy agenda to check corruption but a determined effort to reposition the NDDC to change the development narrative of the region.
The Honourable Minister stated this while inaugurating the Field Forensic Auditors on Thursday 3rd, September 2020 in his office in Abuja.
According to Senator Akpabio, the eight Forensic Auditors were cleared by the Bureau of Public Procurement, BPP, based on individual firm’s technical competency and financial compliance.
The Minister recalled that government’s effort at repositioning the Niger Delta region led to the formation of NDDC in 2000 by an Act of Law mainly to address the issues of ecological and socio-economic development problems in the region after many failed attempts.
Sen. Akpabio noted regrettably that most of the problems that led to the failure of the previous development initiatives created before which included Niger Delta Development Board (NDDB) created in 1958 and Oil Mineral Producing Areas Development Commission (OMPADEC) in 1992, all failed because their operations were marred by lack of focus, excessive corruption, political interference and high overhead cost, which are still prominent in the present NDDC.
The Minister further stated that it is pertinent to have a forensic audit considering the amount of resources deployed into the Commission over the years compared with the level of development recorded over the same period of time.
“The forensic audit of the Commission is supposed to examine and provide answers, as well as creating a framework for reversing the failures recorded in the past in order to recover those resources recoverable, plug the gaps and stop the waste that is keeping the region under developed.”
“Therefore, the forensic audit should be seen as an opportunity and not a witch-hunt, it is considered as an important project by President Muhammadu Buhari Administration. It will also provide a strong base upon which a new NDDC will emerge”, he said.
In his remarks, the Minister of State, Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Omotayo Alasoadura, appealed to the Auditors to do a thorough job, and assured them that the Ministry would put everything in place to ensure that the goals of the forensic audit are realised. He also stated that states not covered by this initial audit would be brought on board.
The Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Dr. Babayo Ardo, had earlier in his address, noted that the approval, appointment and inauguration of the Field Auditors signaled the commencement of the auditing process. “This is the most extensive audit ever ordered by any Administration in the country to undertake a complete forensic exercise of projects, to establish statutory and non-statutory funds paid to contractors, identify names of beneficiaries of contracts and ways which leakages can be blocked, so that funds can be appropriately channeled,” he said.
Responding on behalf of the Forensic Auditors, Principal Lead Consultant, Olumuyiwa Basiru & Co, Kabiru Ahmed, stated that the forensic audit exercise should be seen as a serious effort by government to save the Commission from destruction, as well as to stop the rot and chart a new course for its repositioning. He said it would enable it to channel the resources at its disposal for effective development of the region.
He added that in order to successfully execute the forensic audit exercise, President Muhammadu Buhari had ordered the Forensic Auditors involved to undertake a complete forensic exercise of the NDDC activities in their respective states of assignment; examine and establish whether due process was followed in allocating projects to various NDDC states, among others.