Following allegations of corruption and financial recklessness at the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), a group, Niger Delta Renaissance Coalition, has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to dissolve the Interim Management Committee and inauguarate the board of the commission.
A statement by the Director of Information, Strategy and Programs, Comrade Ebi Arogbofa, said the findings of the Senator Olubunmi Adetunmbi-led Senate Adhoc Committee probing the NDDC had shown that the interim management is a vehicle of deceit and should be disbanded.
The statement read: “The findings of the Senator Olubunmi Adetunmbi-led Senate Adhoc Committee on the allegations of corruption and financial recklessness at the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) under the illegal Interim Management Committee (IMC) is a vindication of our consistent position that the IMC is a vehicle of deceit and should be disbanded. We commend the Senate and the Adhoc Committee for their diligence and commitment to duty in resisting all attempts at blackmail, intimidation and compromise before and during the investigation.
“We note with satisfaction the adoption of the Committee’s recommendations by the Senate in plenary on Thursday July 23, to wit: that the IMC be disbanded and made to refund the sum of N4.923 billion; that the substantive Governing Board of the NDDC be sworn in to manage the Commission in line with the provisions of the Law; that the NDDC be moved back to the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) in the Presidency for proper supervision; and the institution of a credible forensic audit; among others.”
It said that also commendable was the recommendation that oversight of the forensic audit should be transferred to the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation to “guarantee independence, credibility, transparency and professionalism in the output of the exercise.”
The group noted that the Senate also adopted the recommendation that the President with advice from the Auditor General should appoint a renowned, internationally recognised forensic auditor to carry out the exercise.
The group further said: “The findings of the committee and its recommendations are not surprising to Niger Deltans (and Nigerians in general) who watched the IMC’s arrogant and brazen admission to financial recklessness and self-gratification at the Public Hearing by the Committee. Nigerians were also treated to the evidences of undue selfish interventions by Niger Delta Minister, Chief Godswill Akpabio, in the NDDC, which clearly makes him a facilitator of the mismanagement by the IMC and, therefore, unfit to continue to supervise the Commission and the forensic audit.
“With the revelations from the Committee’s investigation, it should be clear to all why Akpabio and his illegal IMC sought desperately to avoid public scrutiny. The NDDC cannot afford to have another legally inchoate interim management any further. This is a point that stakeholders from the region are agreed on. An interim management is also not consistent with the NDDC Act and due process. It is time to put an end to it, and inaugurate the Governing Board.
“By virtue of the NDDC Act of 2000, as amended, the legal management provided for the NDDC is the Governing Board. Nowhere in this country has a Governing Board of an agency been put on hold or set aside for an interim management committee, because of an external audit as canvassed by Akpabio and his hirelings. As Professor Itse Sagay SAN, Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, said recently, ‘I do not see why forensic audit cannot take place when you have a regular Board. I don’t see the point in having this Interim Management Committee, which is an anomaly and which has proved to be a disaster.’”
The group therefore called on President Muhammadu Buhari to heed the Senate resolutions, which agreed with the broad position of Niger Deltans that the IMC was not provided for in the NDDC Act and serves no functional purpose in the administration of the NDDC.
“The forensic audit has to be done by a reputable independent auditor, creditably and independently, just as the NNPC audit was done by Price Waterhouse a few years back while the legitimate Board and Management was still in place. The Board and Management of the NNPC were not set aside for an IMC in order to do the audit. The audit was done independently.
“We want to emphasize that the Niger Delta people are fully behind all legitimate efforts by the Buhari administration to strengthen the NDDC. This is why we resist all attempts to produce a stage-managed forensic audit report, which is what Akpabio and the IMC want to do. The Governing Board of the NDDC should be put in place immediately in line with the NDDC Act. The NDDC should be run in line with the law and its governance institutions strengthened,” it stated.