Tuesday, September 21, 2021

    Godswill Akpabio in hot waters as Buhari, SGF rejects NDDC Forensic ‘Fraudulent’ Audit Report

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    Naija247news Editorial Teamhttps://www.naija247news.com/
    Naija247news is an investigative news platform that tracks news on Nigerian Economy, Business, Politics, Financial and Africa and Global Economy.

    The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio on Thursday submitted the Forensic Audit Report on the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, SAN in Abuja after efforts to submit the report to the president failed, Pointblanknews.com can report.
    A presidency source told pointblanknews.com that President Muhammadu Buhari who personally asked Senator Akpabio to carry out the audit got an independent report that the audit report has been tampered with, and that infractions directly linking the Minister and his cronies have been altered.

    According to the source, “The president refused to grant Akpabio access to submit the report having heard from credible sources that the report has lost its substance.

    “The minister had also approached the SGF to receive the report on behalf of the President, but he was told that only the president cannot receive the report because the letter authorising the probe didn’t originate from the office of the SGF.

    “Akpabio alarmed by the rumours within the presidency about potential sack of ministers began panicking and had to convince the Attorney-General, Malami to accept the report having waited in vain to meet with the president.”

    A Source in NDDC told pointblanknews.com that while the process leading to the selection of the audit team was fraudulent, the report itself is a load of fraud.

    “How can you trust a report that emanates from a fraudulent process. The selection of the audit team was fraudulent. The report sent to the President is equally fraudulent. Those of us here as staff of NDDC know that whatever comes out of Akpabio, and his forensic report would be fraudulent. He is simply the worst thing to happen to NDDC.”

    Akpabio while submitting the report to the AGF noted that the report of the audit committee showed that there are over 13,000 abandoned projects in the Niger Delta, adding that even before the submission of the report some contractors have returned to site on their own and completed about 77 road projects.

    Lead Forensic Auditor, Alhaji Kabir Ahmed, in a brief overview of the doctored report submitted by Akpabio, said the team recommended managerial as well as structural changes, chief of which was the downsizing of the NDDC’s board.

    He said to reduce cost the team recommended that members of the team should henceforth be appointed on part time basis.

    The appointment of members of the board of the NDDC had been suspended until release of the audit report.

    While disclosing that oil companies in the country are still in default of their contributions to the Commission, Ahmed said that the government should withdraw the license of any oil company which defaults for a period of three years.

    The report also recommended the deduction of 15% ecological fund at source and to be paid to the commission because both the federal and state governments had failed to make payments to the commission.

    In addition, the team recommended as a measure of effective revenue collections, that the Federal Inland Revenue Services should collect funds on behalf of NDDC from oil companies in the country.

    Pointblanknews.com reports that that there has been long-running saga of sleaze in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) which recently set off outrage in the Niger Delta region.The palpable frustration in the region is because since the establishment of the NDDC in 2000 as an interventionist agency to reduce poverty and foster development by providing access to health services, safe water, roads, tackle environmental degradation, among others, there is not much on ground to justify the trillions of naira it has received till date.

    Efforts to tackle its peculiar developmental challenges date back to 1950, when the Niger Delta Development Board (NDDB) was set up primarily to develop the region and funded with a 15 per cent revenue contribution from the federal government.

    But it was replaced in 1993 by the Oil Minerals Producing and Development Commission (OMPADEC) and due to failure to achieve its development objectives, then President Olusegun Obasanjo, in 1999, scrapped OMPADEC and set up the NDDC, with a mandate to ensure the sustainable development of the region, a feat the agency has failed to attain due in part due to corruption, poor governance and lack of accountability.

    In 2017, the then NDDC managing director, Nsima Ekere, announced that its contingent liability was N1.3trillion, with 8,000 projects spread across the nine states.

    But by last year, the total debt profile of the commission stood at N3trillion, with thousands of abandoned projects all over the region. In the aftermath of revelation of the scope of mindboggling sleaze that has characterised NDDC in the last eight months, the former chairman of the Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) Board, Ledum Mitee, blamed the abolition of OMPADEC Act, which provided that the development of oil producing communities should be according to the priorities set by those communities, against a situation where the NDDC now solely determine projects without community inputs.

    Mitee, also a former president of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), said the failure to involve communities in project implementation paved way for the NDDC to be hijacked by politicians, who turned it to patronage machinery and cash-cow of the Presidency.

    National Publicity Secretary of Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), Ken Robinson, lamented that the NDDC has failed to address the backward and awkward state of infrastructure in the region, which the Sir Willink Commission specifically highlighted in its report to the British Government in the 1950s.

    PANDEF regretted that 20 years of NDDC’s existence has been characterised by inefficiency, misappropriation, mismanagement, sorrow, continuous suffering of the people, polluted environment, poor state of infrastructure and award of contracts that only existed in paper, with monies disbursed. Robinson described recent happenings in NDDC as not only disgraceful, but also a tragicomedy and deliberate plan by the enemies of the area to ensure no development agency works.

    Similarly, former president of Ijaw National Congress (INC), Charles Harry, said it was agonising that the NDDC has become a cesspool of corruption and place where accountability and transparency has been thrown to the dogs. He regretted that everything that has been done in the NDDC has been cosmetic, adding: “As a development commission, it is supposed to do things that are permanent and will improve the livelihood of the people of the region, but it has woefully failed to do that. Instead of putting round pegs in round holes, we were busy doing political patronage and playing game with the NDDC.

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