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NDDC management spends N81.5 billion freely without projects – Reps Committee

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As the accounts of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) is being scrutinised by the lower Chamber of the National Assembly, a whopping sum of N81 billion has been discovered spent by the Interim Management Committee without projects between February and May, 2020.

The cumulative sum of N81.5 bn was said to have left the account of the NDDC without due process and for no implementation of any known project, since the IMC resumed work.

Chairman of the House Committee on NDDC, Rep. Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo disclosed this during the opening ceremony of the ongoing investigation hearing into the alleged financial recklessness at the Commission.

The House of Representatives, had on the 5th May, 2020 deliberated on a motion on the need to investigate the alleged financial malfeasance and other activities in the NDDC.

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Speaking at the opening ceremony, Rep. Tunji-Ojo said the investigative hearing was not targeted at witch-hunting anyone, but rather as part of patriotic services of the lawmakers to get to the root of some illness bedeviling the NDDC which was established 20 years ago.

“The visionary eyes of forerunners in our hallowed chambers caught the dire need to develop the Niger Delta region to mitigate the impact of national economic activities in the area. In year 2000, the National Assembly established the Act that birthed The Niger Delta Development Commission with a clear mandate to develop the land and the people.

“20 years after, we must ask ourselves some critical questions as the baton of preservation falls on us, today”, Tunji-Ojo added.

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The Lawmaker gave the breakdown of the spendings at the NDDC to include, N1.3bn for Community relations; N122.9m for Condolences; N83m for online media Consultancy; N31.4bn for COVlD—19 palliative and N486 million as DTA, in the period of 4 months.

Also within the same period, Rep. Tunji-Ojo claimed the NDDC spent the sum of N790.9m as impress; N1.956bn to fight the spread of Lassa fever; N900m for Legal services; N220m for maintenance and another N85.6m for oversea travel.

The IMC also spent the sum of N1.121bn for Project public communication; N744m on Security; N8.8bn for staff payment related expenditure and N248m for what they described as stakeholders engagement from February to May 2020.

Although the NDDC officially communicated the inability of the management team to appear before the House Committee on Wednesday, a Director of Funds from the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation, Mr. Sabo Mohammed, could not controvert the findings of the Lawmakers, even as he admitted his office was a signatory to the NDDC account with the Nigeria’s Apex bank.

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Director-General of the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP), Engr. Babatunde Kuye, on his part, confirmed to the panel that the NDDC’s spendings were not in conformity with the procurement guidelines, neither was a certificate of ‘No Objection’ issued to the management to embark on such spendings.

The Speaker of House of Representatives, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila, while declaring the investigative hearing open, tasked the committee members to live above board and make Nigeria and the Niger Delta proud by staying on the path of objectivity and truth.

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