COVID-19:NDDC spent N82bn on condolences in 5 months



The House of Representatives Committee on the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), on Wednesday, interrogated officials of the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Accountant-General of the Federation and the Auditor-General of the Federation over an alleged N82.5bn spent by the NNDC between January and May 2020. The committee’s chairman, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo (APC, Ondo), said the documents submitted by both the CBN and the Auditor-General of the Federation showed that the total amount spent by the NDDC from January to May 2020 was N81.5 billion. CBN, AGF appear before Reps over N81.5bn NDDC expenditure in 5 months Reps grill NDDC boss over extra-budgetary spending He said the commission claimed to have spent N1.3bn on community relations, N122.9m on condolences, N83m on consultancy and N3.14bn on COVID-19, N486m Duty Travel Allowance, N790.9m as imprest, N1.956bn on Lassa Fever, N900m on Legal Service, N220m on maintenance, N85.6m on foreign travels, N1.121bn on public projects communication, N744m on security, N8.8bn on staffing-related payment. He said the NDDC also spent N248m on stakeholders’ engagement from February 18 to May 31, 2020.

The Auditor-General, Anthony Ayine and the representative of the Accountant-General, Sabo Mohammed, confirmed the N81.5bn transactions being investigated. Ayine said there should be punitive measures to discourage agencies violating the constitution.

The NDDC Interim Management Committee members were not present at the hearing, but wrote a letter to the investigative hearing committee informing it of an invitation to the Federal Executive Council meeting and requested to appear on Thursday.

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House of Representatives Committee on Public Accounts, on Monday 13 July, grilled the acting Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission, Pondei Kemerbrandikumo, over the alleged N90.4bn extra-budgetary expenditure by the commission from 2009 to 2011. The committee cited the audit query by the Auditor-General of the Federation that the NDDC allegedly paid N23.215bn to contractors for 2008 to 2012 for 150 projects now stalled. Responding, Kemerbrandikumo explained that the extra-budgetary expenditure arose because of the late passage of the agency’s budgets in the period under review. On the alleged 150 abandoned projects, he said the NDDC was making efforts towards recovering the funds from various contractors through the banks that raised Advanced Project Guarantees on their behalf. Meanwhile, the Senate Committee on Niger Delta Development Commission on Monday slammed the Interim Management Committee of the Niger Delta Development Commission for failing to honour its invitation over alleged misappropriation of N40bn.

Rift in NDDC Ousted managing director of the NDDC, Joy Nunieh, had accused the Niger Delta affairs minister, Godswill Akpabio, of orchestrating her removal from office, but the minister said she was being insubordinate. Nunieh, a former Acting Managing Director of Interim Management Committee of the NDDC, served as NDDC acting MD between October 29, 2019 to February 28, 2020 before the committee was sacked. She alleged on the side lines of the Senate investigative hearing probing NDDC’s misappropriation of N40 billion that Akpabio engineered her removal from office for failing to dance to his tunes regarding the spending of the Commission. Nunieh said: “Nobody makes any payment in NDDC without Godswill Akpabio’s approval.

“When we first came, on the day of the inauguration, he said to me in the car, ‘Madam MD, if you don’t do what I say, the same pen with which I used to sign your paper is the same pen I’ll use to remove you.”

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But reacting to Nunieh’s allegations, Akpabio said the former NDDC MD was removed because of insubordination and for skipping the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC). “She was relieved of her appointment because of insubordination,” Akpabio said when he featured on AriseTV News Saturday night. “My ministry, which supervises her, wrote several letters to her but she never responded to one,” he added. The minister said he had received petitions from anti-corruption agency that Nunieh didn’t have the requisite qualifications to work as acting MD of a commission. He said Nunieh was removed after the discovery that there was no record in the national headquarters of NYSC to prove her participation in the scheme. “We have written to her to explain but she had not responded,” Akpabio added.

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