The Federal Executive Council (FEC) has approved the appointment of Field Forensic Auditors to undertake the audit of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC). Briefing State House Correspondents after a virtual Council meeting chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, yesterday, Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, said Presidency had undertaken to provide the N2.5 billion needed to foot the bill of the auditors since the National Assembly has yet to approve the commission’s 2020 budget. According to the minister, the Council approved the appointment of Messrs Ernst and Young & Co. as the forensic auditor alongside eight others designated to go through the states of the Niger Delta.
He said that the Lead Forensic Auditor was approved in March and would be in charge of programmes and activities at the headquarters. Akpabio said: “This has really kick-started the commencement of evaluation of the abandoned projects of NDDC in the last 19 years estimated almost 12,000 projects. At the end, we will be in the position to know the ones that could be completed, the ones that will be useful, the low hanging fruits that could be plucked for the benefit of the people of the Niger Delta and through this exercise, we will know the amount of monies that have gone into the region in the last 19 years and whether the value we have received so far are commensurate with the monies that have entered into NDDC.”
Asked why it took so long to appoint the Field Forensic Auditors since the presidential approval for the NDDC audit, Akpabio explained: “By the time I assumed office in August 2019, we discovered there was no budget for the NDDC for 2019 up to that September.
So we submitted two budgets in November to the National Assembly. And it took quite a while until in April. The budget details were given out to the NDDC in April, to end 31st of May, less than six weeks. So there was a provision of N1.25 billion in the budget of 2019 for the forensic audit exercise.”
On the cost of the audit, he said: “The first amount that was approved for the lead forensic auditors was about N318 million and then for this batch of eight field auditors, N722.3 million. We expect to complete the field audit in the next one or two weeks to conclude forensic audit procurement by bringing in a further seven to eight of them because of the number of years, 19 years and that will conclude it.”