The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, said quite a lot of things today, some of them startling, about the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), the former managing director Joi Nunieh and allegations of looting at the agency.
Here are some highlights:
1.Rep. Olubumi Tunji-Ojo did not get NNDC contract:
At the investigative hearing on the alleged N40 billion irregular expenditure in the NDDC, Akpabio said that he was yet to see contract documents made to Tunji-Ojo’s company.
“I am not sure if NDDC awarded contract to the Chairman, House of Representatives Committee, Rep. Olubumi Tunji-Ojo.
“For me to say that, I need to see that contracts were awarded to his company; may be the contract was awarded in the area where he comes from in Ondo,” he said.
Tunji-Ojo was accused of executing contracts by the Interim Management Committee of the NDDC.
As a result of the allegation, Tunji-Ojo stepped aside as chairman of the committee to allow for a free and fair hearing and not to be a judge in his own case.
The acting Managing Director of the NDDC, Prof. Kemebradikumo Pondei, had accused Tunji-Ojo of corrupt practices in the commission.
2. 60 percent of NDDC contracts go to National Assembly members:
After refuting the accusation that Tunji-Ojo got contracts from NDDC, Akpabio dropped another bombshell, that 60 percent of contracts by the agency go to ‘you, National Assembly members.
A member of the committee took him up on his “you people” allegation and asked him to clarify.
“I just told you that we have records to show that most of the contracts in the NDDC are given out to members of the National Assembly,” he said.
3. Joi Nunieh:
Akpabio said the former acting Managing Director of NDDC, Ms Joi Nunieh, Akpabio was sacked for insubordination, among other sins.
He also claimed Joi does not have the National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, certificate.
She also did not possess an exemption letter from the NYSC.
He said Joi was sacked when he received a letter from the late Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari that she does not have the requisite qualifications to remain as NDDC’s acting Managing Director.
He explained that he wrote to the NYSC twice and was told twice that she never served and that she did not have the NYSC certificate or exemption letter.
4. Forensic audit of NDDC:
Akpabio said that the forensic audit directed by President Muhammadu Buhari is ongoing and that the process had not been hijacked as alleged in some quarters.
5. NDDC Funding and Budget Control
He explained that the NDDC draws its funds from two sources, the Federal Government and the oil companies.
Akpabio recommended that the budgeting system for NDDC be changed so that it will reflect budget lines in the Appropriate Act.
He also recommended some amendment to the NDDC Act to prevent the management from spending beyond its threshold by splitting big projects into small components.
Akpabio said that management of the NDDC had spent N4.2 billion, which is beyond its threshold by splitting projects into small components of N49 million to evade the approval of the supervising minister.
The minister said that no member of staff of the NDDC had been sacked under his watch, saying that even those on leave got COVID-19 allowance.
5. NDDC Interim Management did not spend N81.5b in five months
Contrary to allegations claiming that the IMC had spent N81.5 billion between February to May, Akpabio said only N23 billion had been spent.
The minister said that only three contracts had been approved since he was appointed as minister of the ministry.
According to him, the contracts include the procurement of forensic auditors, purchase of official cars for NDDC and the award of emergency project on the control of COVID-19.
He told the lawmakers that all contracts were approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC); except of the emergency COVID-19 project.
Akpabio said that at the time of his appointment, there was no budget running and could not have compelled the then IMC to pay N10 billion for Christmas largess to all state.
He said, prior to the implementation of the of the TSA account, the NDDC had over 300 accounts across commercial banks saying that with such systems, monies could get missing.
What Pondei said:
Prof. Kemebradikumo Pondei, the Acting Managing Director, Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) on Monday, collapsed during investigative hearing while answering questions from lawmakers at the ongoing N40 billion irregular expenditures in the commission.
The members had asked Pondie to explain the N642 million paid to a company known as Clear Point Communication.
The lawmakers also asked the Pondie to explain the N536 million paid for Save Life Campaign in the oil rich region and to prove that there were all budgeted for in the 2019 Appropriation Act.
Pondie told the lawmakers that N642 million paid to Clear Point Communication to train locals and to help locate and identify NDDC projects in the area.
Pondie, however, could not confirm that the payments were budgeted for, asking the lawmakers to give him time to provide the budget.
In the process, Pondie collapsed, sweating profusely and was carried out for first aid and medical attention.
The hearing was then adjourned for 30 minutes to all members and guest go for tea break. Details later.