The open investigation by the Senate on allegations of reckless spending by the Interim Management Committee of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) ended yesterday just as the chamber was changed to check against abuses of the budgeting procedures particularly with respect to the NDDC.
Niger Delta Affairs Minister, Senator Godwin Akpabio, who gave the charge while making a presentation at the hearing at the National Assembly, noted that instances abound where money budgeted had been drastically and illegally reduced by some members of the National Assembly against the originally approved fund. He pointed out that there has to be a governance structure to regulate the way things are done at the commission.
The Minister who insisted that the forensic audit of the NDDC was the best way of clearing the rot in the commission that had existed since its establishment, called on all stakeholders including the National Assembly to genuinely support the effort of the presidency in ensuring that the money for the NDDC is used for the people of the Niger Delta.
The Minister shocked the committee when he disclosed that he had never awarded any contract since he became minister except the contract for COVID palliatives. Lamenting the rot that exists in the budgeting system, Akpabio disclosed that in one instance, N10 billion was put in the budget but some people reduced it to N100 million adding that this figure failed to achieve any result.
Collaborating Akpabio’s submission, chairman of the Senate adhoc committee, Olubunmi Adetunbi, declared that the essence of the investigation was to make sure the commonwealth of Niger Delta works for the people of the Niger Delta. The committee said that at the end of the investigation, those who specialize in stealing money would be put out of business.
Meanwhile, the NDDC Managing Director, Keme Pondei, threatened that he would resign if the allegation of corruption levelled against him is proven. A group of contractors had alleged that NDDC top management has been collecting some percentages of the contract sums from them.