OrderPaperToday– Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio has disclosed that the ongoing forensic audit of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) is not aimed at with-hunting anyone, but solely to ascertain why the agency performed badly in the last 18 years.
Senator Akpabio, while speaking with newsmen in the National Assembly shortly after he had a closed door session with the House of Representatives Committee on Niger Delta on Tuesday, also explained that the essence of the forensic audit being carried out by the committee may not necessarily be to unearth fraud.
According to him, its main focus is on why the agency performed badly in past 18 years, as, according to him, “we cannot say it has been a success story.”
Speaking further, the minister assured that some abandoned projects like the head office of the NDDC will be completed by April 2020.
“We will deliver the head office by April 2020. The big cardiovascular hospital abandoned for years which is 80 per cent complete, we are also working to ensure that it is completed.
“About 91 containers of electrical equipment including 5000 transformers are at Onem Port and we are on the verge of clearing them and we believe when we do, we will give light to a lot of communities in the region,” said senator Akpabio.
On why the commission has not lived up to its expectations and why there is so much poverty in the Niger-Delta region, the minister noted that nobody seems to own projects of the Niger-Delta and because of misplaced priorities.
He sighted instances where no single primary school was built but up to one million desks were bought and stored till they get spoiled.
The minister explained, “it is about management of the the projects. Even when the projects come in, it may not be useful to some of those communities because of duplication as a result of lack of synergy with the states.
“For instance, when a state government is doing a particular road and the NDDC contractor will put his signboard and collects money and the state government eventually pays for the road. Those things are going to be unearthed.
“You also have to talk about the quality of deliveries; how come roads of the NDDC cannot last five years? Is it just cut and paste or a function of politically motivated infrastructure which is just meant to syphon money? The region is totally polluted. The oil spills, illegal refineries have destroyed a lot of the soil in the region. What can we do to ensure remediation?”
“At the end of the audit, I will expect that the governance structure would have been well set; I will expect that we will now have the total number of projects and the total number of people who collected money without doing those projects. We will be able to know programmes that were useless.
“Above all, we would have made NDDC bankable; it is important that such an organisation should be able to approach African Export Import Bank and bring in money and build major industries, service a lot of medium and small scale industries for employment opportunities.
“So, we plan for what I call post amnesty initiatives. More than 3000 youths in amnesty now cannot remain in amnesty. That is why the need to have a new NDDC that is the reason for the forensics and people should not think it is targeted at anybody. It’s to find out what went wrong and how come that people do not own any of the projects of the NDDC.
“How come the IOCs are not obeying the laws? If the federal government has responsibilities to the NDDC, how far did it on its own carry out its responsibilities?”
“If NDDC is suffering from limitations on account of monies owed by the federal government, this audit will also bring that out. The idea is to make it bankable; is it true that we are owing over a trillion or two trillion as debt, are they contingent liabilities or are they actual? So it is very important that at the end of it all you can present your balance sheet and ask for a loan” Senator Akpabio added.
Recall that the House through a motion by Mr Ossai Nicholas on November 13, resolved to mandate its committee on Niger Delta to invite the minister of Niger Delta, Senator Akpabio to explain irregularities in the Niger Delta Development Commission.