A new report by the Civil Society Coalition on Audit in Nigeria (CSCAN) has revealed that the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) is unable to account for N90.9b in 176 contracts awarded between 2008 and 2018.
The coalition, which includes Paradigm Leadership Support Initiative (PLSI), BudglT Foundation, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), Dataphyte, Step Up Nigeria, Accountability Lab, Centre for Health, Equity and Justice (CEHEJ), Basic Rights Watch, Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) and media executives in Nigeria revealed most of the projects were either completely abandoned or poorly executed.
Speaking on behalf of CSCAN, Executive Director of PLSI, Olusegun Elemo, said review and analysis of and physical assessment of projects revealed the waste of resources in the NDDC.
“We visited most of the project sites, we have pictorial evidence and we have identified the companies involved and details of the beneficiaries and owners of the contracting firms.
“We urge the National Assembly Public Accounts Committees, Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to take a professional, detailed look at the evidence and recover the funds,” he said.
Olusegun insisted that there was no explanation to what happened in NDDC between 2008 and 2018 other than the fact that those entrusted with the management of the commonwealth of the Niger Delta people intentionally deprived them of the much-desired development.
Also, BudgIT Deputy Manager, Tolutope Agunioye, lamented that over N500b was allocated for the development of the Niger Delta region between 2008 and 2018 and that the current state of some communities was not commensurate with the huge allocation, as most communities do not have potable water due to water pollution.
He said there was no effective healthcare system or a suitable environment for advance quality education for children in the region.
Agunioye pointed out that to effectively execute its projects and programmes, NDDC receives annual statutory allocations from the Federal Government, an annual levy of 3 per cent of the annual budget of oil companies, as well as grants from International Development Agencies.
He also lamented that despite the spending approximately $40b on projects by NDDC since its inception, the NDDC had failed to realise its 15-year master plan for the development of the Niger Delta region.
On his part, Country Director, Accountability Lab, Friday Odeh, argued that only modern audit law could help Nigeria to prevent corruption in the magnitude seen in the NDDC.
He wondered what happened to the forensic audit directed by President Muhammadu Buhari since October 2019 and why it was taking too long, adding that with all the evidence in the report from the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation, there was no need for a forensic audit of the commission.