Nigeria: the merry-go-round at NDDC

The government should establish a council to run the affairs of the agency

The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) is becoming the subject of jokes among critical stakeholders. Almost six months after submitting the report of its much-vaunted forensic report, the federal government has been unable to implement any of the recommendations or appoint a substantial board to enable the commission to function effectively as the stipulates the law. All Nigerians feast on are empty presidential stories and threats as Niger Delta Minister Godswill Akpabio continues to lead the commission with nebulous interim management committees that are unknown to the law.

On October 17, 2019, President Muhammadu Buhari ordered the forensic examination of the NDDC as he hosted nine governors of the constituent states of the interventionist agency. The directive for a forensic audit follows fears expressed by governors that the agency’s operations were characterized by poor choice of projects, mismanagement of jobs, and the lack of support required for state and government efforts. local governments in the region. For a good conduct of the forensic audit, a sum of 2.5 billion naira would have been allocated to work. The federal government also provided a total of 33 utility vehicles to assist auditors in carrying out their duties during the exercise. However, with the forensic audit report completed and the report submitted, there is no serious plan to implement the findings which include the appointment of a board of directors.

The NDDC was established as an interventionist agency in 2000 by President Olusegun Obasanjo, with a clear mandate to develop the oil and gas-rich but impoverished Niger Delta region. The commission’s mandate area includes the nine oil-producing states of Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Imo, Ondo and Rivers. He has a complete master plan, but in the eyes of many it still hasn’t succeeded. The NDDC’s forensic report showed it to be a cesspool of corruption in which many of its past and present leaders as well as senior government officials have not only been complicit, but also indicted.

We don’t understand the song and dance about “forensic auditing”, especially when there are already many reports of financial mismanagement within the NDDC. Indeed, the report of the presidential committee on the execution of projects between 2005 and 2011 was, to say the least, very unflattering. The report covered a total of 609 projects across three states – Cross River, Edo and Rivers. Committee Chairman Chief Isaac Jemide said of the 609 projects monitored, 222 (36.5%) were completed, 102 (16.7%) were in progress and 285 (46.8%) were abandoned. at different levels of completion. Worse yet, some of these projects were completely outside the statutory scope of NDDC.

Similarly, the Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) said that between 2007 and 2014, the NDDC received $ 1.98 billion and 594 billion naira, but could not explain how. the 7.4 billion naira allocated to grassroots development projects have been spent. A former managing director confirmed these observations when he noted upon taking office that NDDC’s project completion rate was not very encouraging. He said more than $ 40 billion received by the region over a 10-year period has been wasted.

What the above shows is that “forensic audit” cannot be a subterfuge to break the law. If the federal government cannot implement the partial recommendations of the audit report, let it at least try to anchor a culture of transparency and accountability by establishing a substantial board of directors. Indeed, allowing the NDDC to operate outside the law by imposing an interim council with an elastic mandate may not be an appropriate way to manage the commission.

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