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Senate report says NDDC spent N4.9b on medical checkup

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The report of the Senate ad-hoc committee on the financial recklessness in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has disclosed that the agency spent N4.9billion on medical checkup of its personnel.

A copy of the report obtained by The Guardian yesterday revealed that the money was paid to the accounts of the individuals in March.

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According to the document, the Acting Managing Director, Daniel Pondei, and the two executive directors got N14.2million each. The report exonerated the first Interim Management Committee (IMC) led by Joi Nunieh, indicating that no such payment was made during her tenure.

The ad-hoc committee stated that the allowance had been in existence even though there was no specific policy underpinning it.

“The three members of the IMC received the highest amount of N14.2 million each.

Two other people, namely Evan Caroline Nagbo and Ms. Cecilia Akintomide took N12, 387,500 each, while Peter Uwa Edieya was paid N10.340,000.”

The report added that four other members of staff collected about N8million each while 140 others collected an average of N7million each.

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The NDDC management also paid 75 others N6million each while 153 staff were paid N5.5million each. Four other categories of staff were paid between N4.1million and N4.8million each while seven others got about N3million each.

The document further indicated that 804 staff members collected between N2.4million and N2.9million each.

Besides, the document showed that the management paid N114.9million as supplementary medical allowance to 26 staff. About 15 of them got N7million while one of them collected N5.2million.

The rest collected between N375, 000 and N550, 000 each.

“Payment to all the 1,401 staff who received the allowance was made on 16 March 2020,” the committee stated.

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The lawmakers said that the distribution of the payment category and number of staff did not suggest a regular hierarchical pattern and an absence of clear policy, which raised suspicion of arbitrariness.

The report also stated that the NDDC management used staff members for the distribution of Lassa fever kits. It explained that personal protective kits were given to the 185 local councils areas of the Niger Delta states through the NDDC staff.

According to the document, the staff members were paid various amounts, ranging from N300,000 to N6,845,000 on April 15, 2020 for the distribution of the kits.

The report stated: “The total amount used for the distribution is N55,090,000.

“Twenty nine (29) employees were engaged in ‘Monitoring of the Emergency Response Programme on Lassa fever Outbreak’ at a cost of N5,972,500.

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“The items were purchased via a contract to Cremes Limited for the ‘Supply of 21 ,000 Lassa fever protective kits in the Niger Delta for which N857,850,000 was paid on January 22, 2020.

“There is no record to show the procurement went through due process. It was observed that almost all cadres of employees were involved in the distribution and monitoring exercise.

“NDDC did not provide any returns on the end-user beneficiaries which would have helped in evaluating the accountability and transparency of the programme. There was also no mention of the original target beneficiaries.

“NDDC management did not provide details of allocation of the Lassa fever protective kits per each state and local government area and how the distributors were assigned as well as the collated report on the distribution exercise.

“In the same token, the staff who were engaged for the monitoring exercise should have been made to provide an assessment of the impact activity. They should have justified the huge amount of money allocated for the exercise.

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“There should have been record of who covered which state and exactly when was the monitoring exercise carried out, given that the most of the payments were made in the very days of complete national lockdown. This is the aspect that NDDC failed to provide.”

The ad-hoc panel added that by its own record. NDDC spent N808.9million as imprest between October 29, 2019 and May 23. 2020.

“This covers a period of seven months during most of which the nation was on lockdown.

“Given that significant amount was also expended on travels, duty tour allowance during this period and payment of bills, it is difficult to justify this huge amount as imprest necessary for the services of the commission.”

As the revelations are being made, former Delta State governor, Emmanuel Uduaghan, has denied ever approaching the NDDC for contract.

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In a statement yesterday, Uduaghan said that the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, had in a letter to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, linked him and Chief James Ibori, also a former governor in the state, and others, with some contracts awarded by the NDDC.

Akpabio was said to have alleged that Uduaghan was awarded a N429million contract for emergency repairs of roads on Close B, Alhaji Estate and environs, Rumuodomaya, Port Harcourt, in Rivers State.

But, Udugahan in the statement by his media aide, Monoyo Edon, denied the allegation, saying he had never approached the NDDC for any contract.

Meanwhile, the leadership of the Host Communities of Nigeria (HOSCON) has appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to urgently sack and replace Akpabio “as his recent confession and indictment of individuals is nothing but fast becoming mere campaign of blackmail and divisionary tactics.”

HOSCON said that the appointment of a minister to replace Akpabio, and inauguration of Dr. Pius Odubu-led NDDC board would put a stop to the mess in the agency.

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The group also suggested that the office of auditor general of the federation and government investigative agencies should carryout all necessary audit/probe that would make any individual or group that has contributed to the sorry state of the NDDC to face the law.

HOSCON National Director of Media and Publicity, Okakuro Whiskey, in a statement yesterday said Akpabio was not only an interested party but remained one of the accused, having served as governor of Akwa Ibom State for eight years and personally recommended some of the top management staff of the NDDC.

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