Report on the financial expenditure by the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), which was submitted to the Senate Ad-hoc Committee on the financial recklessness in the Niger Delta Development Commission has shown that over N3. 14 billion was shared as relief funds to its over 4,000 staff and Police Commands of the nine States in the Niger Delta region.
Senator Olubunmi Adetukunmbi laid bare the report at Thursday’s public investigative hearing that got everyone stunned.
Dramatically, however, officials of the NDDC in response alleged that Chairmen of Senate and House of Representatives Committees on Niger Delta Affairs were involved in financial meddlesomeness and contracts grabbing.
They insisted that there was no missing funds in the Commission as widely believed before Senate’s moves to investigate activities of the Commission, maintaining that the current Interim Management Committee (IMC) from February 19, 2020 till date have been observing the financial rules in the agency.
Chairman of the Committee Senator Olubunmi Adetukunmbi queried the Acting Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of NDDC, Prof. Kemebradikumo Pondei Daniel to have allowed such a humongous sum of money shared to staffers of the Commission in the guise of relief for COVID-19 pandemic within a period of three months.
Senator Olubunmi Adetukumbi raised serious concern that a sum of N10 million could be given to a single staff as COVID-19 relief fund without the person testing positive to the virus.
He said : “From the financial statements or documents forwarded to this Committee from your office as regards expenditure carried out between October 29, 2019 and May 31, 2020, monies expended on COVID-19 pandemic relief are mind boggling.
“Out of the total expenditure of N81.495 billion spent by both the IMC led by Mrs Gbene Nunieh as Managing Director between October 29, 2019 and February 18, 2020 and the current IMC led by Professor Pondei between February 19, 2020 and May 31, 2020, N3.14 billiion was spent on COVID-19 pandemic as relief funds.
“Highly disturbing is the fact that based on the records of payment of such funds, a whopping N10 million was given to a single staff while two other staffers collected N7million each.
The Chairman further gave breakdown of payments pertaining to COVID-19 to several other staff as N3 million given to each of 148 other staffers , N1.5 million each to 157 other category of staffers , N1 million each to 497 others and N600,000.00 each to the last category of 464 others.
In the report, the Chairman questioned the rationale behind the sum of N475 million released to the Police High Command for purchase of face masks and hand sanitizers for men and officers across the nine states in the region
The IMC officials were further taken on their records which showed that N1.3 billion was spent on community relations, N1.956 billion for Lassa fever, N23.8 billion for Consultancy fees, N486 million for Duty Travel Allowance (DTA), as well as N85.6 million for overseas travels.
The Executive Director (Projects), Dr. Cairo Ojougboh in defense, said those expenses were done in the interest of the Commission, a position that was corroborated by the Managing Director of the NDDC.
Professor Pondei further opined that the Commission alone, has 150 policemen attached to it for security purposes aside the various Police Commands of the affected nine States in the region.
After figures of reckless expenses were reeled out, Dr. Ojougboh who tend to dominate the Defence, again, submitted that Senate Committee Chairman on Niger Delta Development Commission, Peter Nwaoboshi and his House of Representatives counterpart were was involved in financial meddlesomeness, contracts grabbing and splitting.
He accused both Chairmen of demanding for 1,000 projects out of 2,900 emergency projects the Commission planned to carry out to change the face of the Niger Delta Communities.
His words: “Aside projects grabbing, the two chairmen are holding the Commission to ransom on its 2020 budget which had been submitted since November last year but yet to see the light in July 2020.
“The NDDC has lost confidence in the two Chairmen because they were out to grab and bastardise operations of the Commission”, he pointed.”
The public investigative hearing continues on Friday with the expectation that the Minister of
Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio will be present.
On the N40 billion allegation levelled against the current IMC by the Senate within the first three months of this year, Ojougboh said there was nothing of such.
According to him, no single Kobo is missing in the account of the Commission since February 19 this year when the current IMC under the Managing Directorship of Professor Pondei assumed office.
“The current IMC met debt of over N3 trillion as payments for contracts awarded and executed by previous management, out of which N156 billion had been released and ready for payment”, he added .
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