N’Delta stakeholders decry FG’s silence on NDDC forensic audit report
Niger Delta stakeholders have decried Federal Government’s silence on the forensic audit of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) after over one month of its submission.
Speaking at a town hall meeting organised by the Social Development Integration Centre (Social Action), yesterday, in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, they said President Muhammadu Buhari’s silence on the long awaited report was disturbing.
They stressed that the Niger Delta desired to know how the recommendations of the report could translate to repositioning the commission, make it more accountable, transparent and effective in meeting up its core mandate in the region.
The Guardian recalled that the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, who submitted the report on September 2, 2021, revealed that the audit discovered about 13,700 abandoned projects in the region.
Buhari had in 2019 directed a forensic audit exercise of NDDC’s projects and programmes covering the 19 years of its establishment in 2000 to 2019.
Speaking at the town hall meeting which was attended by oil host communities, traditional rulers, environmental activists and civil society organisations (CSOs), among others, Programme Coordinator of Social Action, Isaac Botti, said the gathering was to galvanise views of stakeholders, who were directly affected by NDDC’s decisions and listen to them on how they feel, while waiting for action.
“For a while now, no one is saying anything about the report, especially, as it was aimed at sanitising the NDDC. We cannot restructure or reposition the NDDC without considering the recommendations of the report and some of the salient issues raised,” Botti said.
“There are serious allegations of corruption, contract racketeering, abandoned projects, wastage of over N3 trillion on non-existent contracts.
Government should look into these and investigate them and possibly arrest and prosecute culpable persons, who will help to send signal that NDDC is no longer business as usual,” he stated.
He stressed that as government agency saddled with the responsibility of carrying out intervention projects aimed at promoting development in the Niger Delta region, it should live up squarely to that responsibility.
Also speaking, Executive Director of We The People, an advocacy group, Ken Henshaw, described the publication of the National Assembly pro-panel report on NDDC and the forensic audit reports, as mere condemnation of corruption, adding that those actions were not enough to reposition the agency if no further actions were taken.
“There is a great need to restructure the commission to enable it to deliver its core mandate. Contracts selling and racketeering have become normal. Therefore, those who are indicted in the audit report should be arrested and prosecuted in accordance with the law,” he stated.