Following the presentation of a Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ) research report on the corruption and mismanagement of funds, going into trillions of naira, by the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), blame for the rot in the commission has been placed squarely on the presidency.
Dayo Olaide, deputy director at MacArthur Foundation, said the presidency and governors of the Niger Delta region were culpable in the rot and failure of the NDDC for failing to hold it accountable and ensuring transparency in its operations as the Act setting up the commission dictates.
Olaide spoke on Friday during the presentation of the research report investigating corruption in the NDDC by the PTCIJ in a virtual conference.
The Mac Arthur Foundation funds and partners with the PTCIJ.
Olaide pointed to the poor supervision and monitoring from the presidency particularly in ensuring regular audits, which should be submitted to both the president and National Assembly, and also ensure proper functioning of the board and the directorates of the commission.
Olaide said, “The office of the auditor general has a responsibility to audit the NDDC because it receives allocation every year.
“So really, we are at a point where we need to ask questions that go beyond the current situation, but goes back to the institutional arrangement that has been put in place to ensure transparency, to ensure accountability and to ensure that development actually happens in the Niger Delta.”
He said, “One of the first things that needs to happen is that the presidency must see through the forensic audit that is ongoing. The forensic audit must be implemented. Anyone indicted must be prosecuted.
“Assets of those that have been indicted must be seized as quickly as possible. They must traced, and they must seized. Contractors, whether they are members of the National Assembly, whether they are board members must be conclusively prosecuted.”
Tobi Oluwatola, who presented the report said that human development in the Niger Delta had gone in the 20 years since the establishment of the NDDC. According to the report, some N2.16 trn in funds has been poured into the NDDC.
Findings of the research include an estimated N1.23trn expended on projects that were either not implemented, abandoned or were uncompleted. The N1.23trn were spent on some 5,300 projects.
And of the 9,300 NDDC claimed to have executed, the investigative was able to track 172 of them.
Of those 172 projects, only 43 per cent were completed.
Some of the problems the team found are that contracts are awarded to unqualified companies, conflict of interest in award of contracts, completed projects are re-awarded, false reporting on project status and failure to deliver on contracts.