In pursuant to his anti-graft disposition, President Muhammadu Buhari has vowed to bring to book and recover every kobo stolen from the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
While he was receiving the report of the Forensic Audit of the commission on Thursday, Buhari promised that he would implement all recommendations of the report, including criminal investigation, prosecution and recovery of funds not properly utilized for the public purposes. He insisted that there was no going back for the government to promote probity and greater prosperity for the people of the Niger Delta Region and Nigeria as a whole.
Represented by his Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, who received the report on his behalf, from the Minister, Niger Delta Affairs Ministry, Senator Godswill Akpabio, the president expressed his appreciation to the minister, the auditors and the security agencies for doing a good job for the nation by seeing through the success of the exercise.
He revealed that between 2001 and 2020, over N3trn had been given to the NDDC, in terms of budgetary allocation in addition to over N2 trn from Statutory and non-Statutory sources given. However, nothing, he maintained, commensurate was on ground to justify the allocations.
“I am delighted you have concluded this exercise and report presented. The Federal Government is not oblivious of the interest generated on the forensic exercise by stakeholders on the constitution of the NDDC board. This administration is determined to address the challenges militating against the delivery of the mandate of the NDDC to the people of the region and what part of the reason the President signed the PIB into law.
“The report and your recommendations would be critically examined for necessary action and implementation. The essence of the exercise was to ensure probity and accountability in the running of the NDDC. It is therefore important for the Federal Government to be properly informed of all what had been spent and how it was spent,” he noted.
Buhari promised that the laws of the commission would be reviewed, and proper restructuring implemented for efficiency and service delivery for due process compliant just as he had directed that the report be forwarded to The Federal Ministry of Justice for legal review by relevant agencies.
Akpabio, before the presentation, disclosed that the auditors had concluded the examination and documentation of a total 13,777 contracts for projects and programmes awarded to contractors and consultants in all Niger Delta States from 2001-August 2019, at a total final contract value of N 3,274.206,032,213.24.
He said that the name and identity of a vast number of beneficiary companies were also captured, adding, “Via Field Verification, the Forensic Auditors established the exact status of all contracts for projects and programmes in all constituent states during the period under review classified into completed, ongoing, abandoned, terminated, taken-over and non-existence.”
The minister disclosed that the auditors also focused on funding gaps, Irregularities, mismanagements and Due Process Violations/Conflicts of interest. He said a Personnel Audit and Review of the governance and organisational structure of NDDC had also been carried out, saying an operational guideline/Manual and a fit-for-purpose organogram that would aid the transformation of NDDC to a globally competitive development agency had been developed as well.
Akpabio also affirmed that available financial records of the commission were analysed with the aim of establishing the total amount of funds received by the commission from all sources, both statutory and non-statutory and the total funds and other resources paid to contractors as well as the total amount outstanding as debts with regards to such projects within the period under reference.
“The Auditors have also provided policy recommendations, in terms of measures that should be taken to ensure the prevention of such irregularities and mismanagement, going forward.
“With utmost respect Sir, I crave the indulgence of Your Excellency that after my speech, the Lead Forensic Auditors will present to you a quick summary of their Findings and Recommendations,” he said.