NDDC: Stakeholders Demand Immediate Release of Forensic Audit, Punishment of Embezzlers of Public Funds
By Frank Ajufo
Rising from a town hall meeting in Port Harcourt on “Promoting Probity in the NDDC to Rebuild Accountability Tenet and Public Trust” organised by Social Action supported by MacArthur Foundation, stakeholders in the region decried lukewarm attitude of the Federal Government with regarding the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) audit report.
Statement signed by the Programmes Coordinator, Botti Isaac revealed that the participants noted that Federal Government has no explanation for the delay in making public the forensic audit report except for possible cover up or editing of the report.
Participants were said to have also lamented on the deplorable state of infrastructure across the region, observing that NDDC has failed to meet this massive infrastructural gap, as they called for immediate investigation into the alleged 12,000 abandoned projects and contracts and the contractors held accountable for the trillions of naira wasted on those projects.
In a welcome address, Isaac spoke on the need for CSOs, NGOs and the citizens of the Niger Delta region to demand accountability in the NDDC; noting that in view of all the recent revelations both from the Senate Special report and the forensic audit report, there is no better time for citizens to demand accountability from NDDC than now.
The Executive Director of “We The People”, Ken Henshaw noted that the inefficiency of the NDDC has been for a long time.
“The commission is being used to settle militants, reward friends, compensate allies and settle community tension”.
While making a presentation on the “Promoting Probity and Accountability in NDDC- building Public Trust”, Henshaw observed that the world is gradually moving away from fossil fuel and as oil fizzles out, the region will be left with environmental damage caused by years of oil exploration and no finance to fix the damages done. So now is the time to take actions to fix the Niger Delta, stressing the need to demand the publication of the forensic as it will help promote engagement that will restore NDDC to its best form.
Resolutions contained in the statement included; “Condemning of corruption in all its forms and urge the government to expedite action in line with the above demands if the anti-corruption stance of the present government would not be taken as a song of all times, as this line of action will serve as a deterrent to others and help position public offices for efficiency and effectiveness. It will sanitize and position the NDDC for effective service delivery to better the lot of the people of the Niger Delta.
“The call for all the people indicted in the forensic audit must be prosecuted in accordance with the law, as that is the only way to send a signal that the current administration will not tolerate impunity.
“The need to disincentive further corruption in the NDDC, reposition the NDDC, by recalibrating how the NDDC functions as the groups called on President Muhammadu Buhari to take decisive actions to purge NDDC of corruption.
“Create a greater linkage with the people by putting in place structures at the local government to bring the people closer to the NDDC so that the NDDC can no longer implement projects that do not reflect the people’s interest, as it will enable community people to recommend and monitor development projects in their communities.
“Bridge the gap between traditional institutions and the Niger Delta Development Commission as the traditional institutions have a role to play in demanding accountability.
“The NDDC project planning and budgeting processes should be community driven, with inputs from traditional and community leaders, going forward, while Niger Delta communities and CSOs are to begin collaborating on their engagements with the NDDC”, among other issues.
It was also recalled that the Minister for Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio had said that the commission has in 20 years mismanaged over N3 trillion while out of the 13,774 projects it embarked upon, 12,000 were abandoned.