NEDC: Anti-corruption group tackles CSOs for raising false alarm on corruption

The Coalition for Transparency in Nigeria (CTN) has knocked the People Advocacy for Transparency and Accountability (PATAI) and Al-Mushaid Initiative for Transparency and Accountability (AITA), for allegedly, raising false alarms on corrupt practices within the leadership of the North East Development Commission (NEDC).

Recall that PATAI and AITA had last week, accused the leadership of NEDC of mismanaging N146.19 billion, and threatened to report the commission to the anti-graft agency if it failed to respond to the allegations by Wednesday, March 15.

But the Coalition for Transparency in Nigeria (CTN) at a press conference held in Abuja on Sunday, dismissed the allegations of the CSOs as “false and baseless.”

The Executive Director, CYN, Dr Cecilia Ikechukwu, who addressed the news conference, stated that the anti-corruption coalition decided on conducting routine due diligence before commending the two organizations for uncovering the allegations.

She explained that the findings of the coalition about “the entire matter” were, however, saddening.”

The Executive Director lamented that it was clear that “hustlers are hijacking the noble resolve of citizens to hold the government accountable.”

Adding: “The first absurdity we noticed was that the two groups gave NEDC leadership until March 15, to answer to their funny posers, failing which they will report to the EFCC. The anti-graft agencies and other law enforcement agencies conduct media scanning and the press briefings held by PATAI and AITA were already enough ground for the EFCC to step in.

“The fact that it has not stepped in meant that these two so-called “transparency NGOs” were merely engaged in the use of fictitious petitions, campaigns of calumny and blackmail to intimidate the leadership of NEDC.

“A second absurdity is that the groups accused NEDC leadership of mismanaging the sum of N146.19 billion being budgetary provisions made for it. It is absurd that they are not able to articulately pin down the amount within the context of budgetary and implementation processes.

“Was the amount a fraction of a larger budget? What is the timespan the money was meant to cover, one year, two years or three years? Is the N146.19 billion budget for an entire year?

How did the NEDC meet its overhead, recurrent and personnel costs if the entire N146.19 billion was misappropriated as being claimed? The group asked.

It added that it was odd that in spite of all the facts they claimed to possess, both groups opted for media mudslinging and name-calling when they could have simply tendered their petition to the EFCC or the Independent Corrupt Practices or Related Offences Commission (ICPC).

“They can only resort to this route because their allegations of corruption in the agency are non-existing. They are phantom lies in the imagination of these questionable elements.”

The coalition added that the fact of the matter was that “in August 2020, the Senate Committee on Special Duties after a three-day oversight function to appraise the performance of the NEDC, commended the Commission for its “outstanding performance” in the area of humanitarian intervention.

“The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Special Duties, Senator Yusuf Yusuf, who led the delegation on the oversight visit gave the commendation. Please, note that the Senate has a Committee on Public Accounts, which would have flagged if anything was amiss in the finances of NEDC.

“In June 2022, a Coalition of Gombe Youths and Elders Progressive Forum (CGYEPF) commended NEDC for its laudable intervention initiatives in the North-East sub-region. This Coalition praised the Commission for its various projects in the region. They made their position known in a statement entitled, “Gombe Elders and Youths are Happy with NEDC successes in the region and signed by the coalition’s National Chairman, Alhaji Salihu Magaji.

“These are citizens that benefitted from the projects it implemented so we wonder where PATAI and AITA are sourcing their own facts from.”

Adding: “Another fact ignored by the activists-for-hire is that there is a Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP), which must vet the award of contracts of all Federal Government Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs). To the extent that our emergency “transparency NGOs” could not fault the NEDC leadership for bypassing the contract processes, they ought to have approached institutions that understand the processes to educate them.

“The implication of this is that there is no project or contract awarded that is more than four years old. We are also aware that because of the paucity of funds, government projects are implemented in phases spanning upward of three years with budgetary provisions made for such projects in instalments. Sometimes there are years when there would be no budgetary provisions for an ongoing project which would then be temporarily suspended and then resumed in subsequent years when funds are provided.

“The list of so-called “abandoned projects of NEDC” drawn up by PATAI and AITA, therefore, reeks of ignorance and is totally laughable”, it added.

CTN maintained that NEDC stands out as one of the most transparent agencies in the country and they were tempted to rate it as the most transparent in the country until such a time that someone can bring up empirical evidence to prove that another agency has surpassed that record.

While condemning the coordinators of the two organizations for being “insensitive to the dangers of plying their blackmail in a Commission that is strategic to long-term peace in the terrorism-impacted North-East geo-political zone”, the coalition called on the intelligence community and law enforcement agencies to grill the “operators of PATAI and AITA to prove that they are not allegedly on errands for Boko Haram or ISWAP.”

This it said, was necessary to ensure that things do not fester badly before destructive platforms like the duo are called to order.

The coalition also urged the leadership of NEDC to “disregard the criminal ultimatum handed in by PATAI and AITA and focus on their mandate of returning the North East to the commercial powerhouse it was before terrorism disrupted lives there.

While advising the public to disregard the two organizations, the coalition called on PATAI and AITA to retrace their steps and stop their resort to blackmail.


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