The Federal Government has placed liens on N6 billion worth assets own by contractors and former directors of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC). This was disclosed by President Muhammadu Buhari at the inauguration of the NDDC Advisory Committee in Abuja.
This is in addition to over N3.7 billion and various assets worth billions of Naira recovered by law enforcement agencies over the years.
In a statement issued by Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Presidency, Femi Adesina, told the committee that these abuses of the past clearly showed the need for strict and diligent oversight from the advisory committee.
He charged them to discharge their new assignment diligently and effectively, working closely with the relevant ministries, adding that he looked forward to seeing positive changes in the affairs of the Commission as well as on the ground in the Niger Delta region.
President Buhari recalled that in 2016, his administration launched the “New Vision for the Niger Delta (NEVIND)”, aimed at bringing sustainable peace, security, infrastructure and human capital development to the region, and hoped to achieve these through the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, NDDC and the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP).
These institutions were, however, unable to deliver their mandates due to mismanagement, leaving the people of Niger Delta “with abandoned infrastructural projects and substandard social programmes which were designed to improve their living conditions.”
President Buhari also noted that the inauguration of the NDDC Advisory Committee is in line with the provisions of Section 11 (I) of the NDDC Establishment Act, explaining that the Committee is charged with the responsibility of advising the Board and monitoring its activities.
Justifying the decision to inaugurate the committee ahead of the reconstitution of the NDDC Board, President Buhari said, ‘‘This is to enable us to develop insights into the affairs of the Commission which will properly guide the Board when reconstituted once the Forensic Audit exercise on the Commission is concluded.
‘‘You may recall that the Federal Executive Council, on the 5th of February, 2020 approved the appointment of the Lead Forensic Auditors. I am told they are concluding their pre-engagement activities and should be ready to commence work soon.’’
Speaking on behalf of the members of the Advisory Committee, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State thanked the President for inaugurating the committee and granting the request of the governors, from the region, for a forensic audit of the NDDC.
Okowa expressed hope that the result from the forensic audit would help put the activities of the NDDC into proper perspective, with a view to putting it on course to deliver on its mandate to the people.
He noted that for sustainable development of the region, the NDDC must perform its duties in close collaboration with the states to avoid duplication of projects.
‘‘We do not want to criticise what has happened in the NDDC for quite some time, but the fact is that the cooperation between the states and the NDDC has not been strengthened over time and we have various cases of duplication of projects that are not properly planned.
‘‘But I believe that with the inauguration of this body we will be able to sit down, meet together, work in collaboration and supportively to bring greater developments to our people,’’ he added.
Meanwhile, individuals like Eric Omare had described the inauguration as a contradiction of the requirements of the NDDC Act.