NDDC slams Senate Committee for budget distortion

The Acting Executive Director, Projects, Interim Management Committee, IMC, of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh has accused the Chairman, Senate Committee on Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi and his House of Representatives counterpart, Olubumi Tunji-Ojo of bastardizing the budget of the interventionist agency.

He also disclosed that no money has been misapplied by the IMC since it came on board.

Speaking in Abuja on Thursday when he appeared before the Senator Olubunmi Adetunmbi-led ad-hoc committee probing the alleged financial recklessness to the tune of N40 billion by the IMC, Ojougboh said since the interim management came on board, it has not awarded any contract, except the recent COVID-19 palliatives.

He said if Nwaoboshi and Tunji-Ojo remain as chairmen of the committees, the Niger Delta will never develop.

Similarly, the Chairman of the Senate Ad-hoc Committee on the Investigation of the alleged Financial Recklessness in the NDDC, Senator Olubunmi Adetunmbi, said they have uncovered how the IMC shared N1.5 billion among staff and the Nigerian Police Force as COVID-19 relief package.

He said N10 million was given to one staff, N7 million each to two staff and N5 million each to three staff, adding that N3million each was given to 148 staff, N1.5 million each to 175 staff, N1 million each to 495 staff, N600,000 each to 464 staff and N475 million to the police to buy face mask and hand sanitizers.

The Acting Managing Director, Kemebradikumo Pondei, said the money was given to the staff as COVID-19 relief fund to ease the effect of the pandemic on them.

“We have to take care of the staff who are also the representatives of the people from the nine states of the Niger Delta region,” he said.

On the N475 million given to the police to buy face mask and hand sanitizers, he said the commission received the request from the police high command and the management approved it. “We gave the money to the police high command and they have not given us the record of how the money was spent,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Accountant-General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, told the ad-hoc committee that N281 billion has so far been released to the NDDC from 2016 till May this year.

Giving a breakdown of the figure, he said in 2016, N41 billion was released; in 2017, N64 billion was released; in 2018, a total of N71 billion was released; in 2019, N71 billion was released and from January to May this year, N34 billion has been released.

It would be recalled that the Senate is probing the alleged financial recklessness to the tune of N40 billion by the IMC of the NDDC. It had set up six-man ad-hoc committee to carry out a holistic investigation into all issues relating to but not limited to the alleged misapplication and misappropriation.

Its mandate is to look into all procurement and financial transactions of the commission in this fiscal year and any other matter that is not in accordance with the provisions of the NDDC Establishment Act, 2000 or any other extant law.



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