… says 13,000 projects abandoned
The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio yesterday submitted the Forensic Audit Report on the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC). The report was submitted to the President through the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) in Abuja. Akpabio, who noted that although the exercise had a chequered history, thanked the President and all those who supported and ensured its success.
He, however, stressed that the exercise was not done to witch-hunt anyone, but to ensure that the huge sums of funds committed to the area yearly were justified. He further lamented that the region had remained backward since 1958 in spite of successive government’s efforts through the creation of various interventionist programmes and projects.
According to him, the report of the audit committee showed that there are over 13,000 abandoned projects in the Niger Delta, adding that even before the submission of the report, some contractors have returned to site on their own and completed about 77 road projects. Lead Forensic Auditor, Kabir Ahmed, in a brief overview of the report, said that the team recommended managerial as well as structural changes, chief of which was the downsizing of the NDDC’s board. He noted that to reduce ,cost the team recommended that members of the team should henceforth be appointed on part time basis. The appointment of members of the board of the NDDC had been suspended until release of the audit report.
While disclosing that oil companies in the country are still in default of their contri-Planbutions to the Commission, Ahmed said that the government should withdraw the license of any oil company which defaults for a period of three years. The report also recommended the deduction of 15% ecological fund at source and to be paid to the Commission because both the federal and state governments had failed to make payments to the Commission. In addition, the team recommended as a measure of effective revenue collections, that the Federal Inland Revenue Services should collect funds on behalf of NDDC from oil companies in the country. In his own speech, Malami recalled that the President had ordered for a holistic forensic audit of the activities of the Commission from inception to August 2019 in response to the yearnings of the people of the Niger Delta Region to reposition it for effective service delivery.
“It is imperative to state that the call for the audit by the people of the Niger Delta Region arose from the huge gaps between resources invested in the region vis a vis the huge gap in infrastructural, human and economic development. “It is on record that between 2001 and 2019, the Federal Government approved N3, 375, 735,776,794.93 as budgetary allocation and N2,420,948,894,191.00 as income from Statutory and Non Statutory Sources, which brings the total figure to the sum of approximately N6 trillion given to the Niger Delta Development Commission.
“Consequently, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved the engagement of a Lead Forensic Auditor, as well as 16 reputable audit firms to conduct the audit exercise. “The President is delighted that the auditors have now completed this exercise and the Report is today being presented.