NDDC ‘owing’ Phantom Contractors over N3trn – Ojougboh, ED Projects
**Says, one Senator with over 300 contracts attacking C’ttee
**10 Firms to handle Forensic Audit
By Omeiza Ajayi
The Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has expressed its commitment to facilitating an efficient forensic audit of the Commission, lamenting that the NDDC is currently indebted to some phantom contractors to the tune of over N3 trillion.
The committee accused some of the contractors of sponsoring attacks against the audit as approved by President Muhammadu Buhari, adding that one of the vilest attacks is coming from a serving senator (names withheld) who was awarded over 300 multimillion naira contracts by the NDDC, out of which 120 of them have been fully paid for even as the said lawmaker has never mobilised to any of the sites.
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NDDC Executive Director, Projects, Dr Cairo Ojougboh, stated these at a media interface in Abuja.
He said: “You will recall that some time ago the governors of the Niger Delta states visited Mr President [Muhammadu Buhari] after Mr President had sent a list to the Senate for confirmation. The leaders of the Niger Delta and these governors complained to Mr President that the NDDC had fallen short of what it was intended to be and to do. Therefore, they asked the president to look again into the affairs of the NDDC.
“In fact, one of the governors, Mr Nyesom Wike, said the NDDC has become a conduit for fraud and a blueprint for cheating in the Niger Delta. Based on the receipt and the complaints from the leaders of the Niger Delta, Mr President There And Then Instructed That An Audit Committee, A Forensic Audit Committee , should be set up to look into the management of the NDDC.
“And so, the issues at hand were, one, which management will oversee the forensic audit? The woman who was the Acting MD then had been in NDDC since the days of OMPADEC and it was thought that the bureaucracy is part of the problem in the NDDC.
“Therefore, they will not allow them to, oversee and to supervise the forensic audit. The other body that will have supervised it is the incoming management but again, it was thought that allowing this board to supervise the forensic audit will also get them encumbered because they will now also be interested in the matters that they are involved in. So, the system came up with the idea that an independent body must be put together to oversee the forensic audit for a period of three to six months.
“Thereafter, at the end of the forensic audit, the body that has just been screened will now take over from the Interim Management Committee. Everybody accepted except for some rogue leaders. And this is why I have reason to commend the Senate President and the Deputy Senate President, these are very good men, but somebody who is particularly interested in a major contract of the NDDC, who is a member of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, he alone has 300 jobs in the NDDC. Of the 300 contracts, 120 has been fully paid and he has not mobilised to site for these 120.
“The remaining is what he is now using to mobilise thugs in the Niger Delta, to instigate people to start to prevent the audit. Anybody who wants this forensic audit to be stopped is not a proper human being and is not doing so in the interest of the people of Nigeria,” Ojougboh added.
N3trn to phantom contractors
“What the people want is this forensic audit and they are asking how would this forensic audit be conducted properly so that the nation will get the best result? Therefore, the system said it must look for people who do not have pecuniary interests in the NDDC. I Dr Cairo, I have never entered the NDDC building before. I do not have one contract there.
“The MD has no interest whatsoever in the NDDC. ED Finance also does not have any interest. Therefore, when given the opportunity that we just have been given, our job is to make sure that we avail the auditors all the necessary documents and information, all the necessary help they need, because we are not protecting any interest but to help the auditors to be able to do their job as it is required.
“Therefore, for this individual who is now busy sponsoring thugs everywhere in Bayelsa and Rivers to come and destroy this, and he is using the money of the people. You did not indicate your interest to the Senate, and then you are the one screening the committee that the President has set up. Ideally, you should indicate to the Senate that you are an interested party, and then you recuse yourself from that process.
“Therefore, it is obvious that the reason he is behaving the way he is behaving is that he wants the system, the looting in the NDDC to continue, and this is what the Interim Management Committee will not support. It is as simple as that, and therefore, I appeal to Nigerians to support the position of Mr President, to support the IMC and to support the people of the Niger Delta, so that at the end of the forensic audit, the NDDC Interim Payment Certificates (IPC) that are pending are worth over N 3trillion and that is what the NDDC is owing these phantom contractors and it is these phantom contractors that are the people preaching and making noise to stop the probe. All they want is the stealing to continue.
“All they want is to bring puppets to manage the forensic audit because they know that the members of the IMC will not compromise. If you look at the records at the NDDC, you will cry. Some genuine people that have done jobs for the board have not been paid for over 15 years and their families are suffering. Many of those who were paid are these phantom contractors.”
Dr Ojougboh also added that about 10 reputable firms would be engaged to conduct the forensic audit, saying the Interim Management Committee has no intention of dabbling into areas outside its remit as its mandate is different from that of the incoming board.
“The assignments given to the incoming board and the IMC are completely different. Ours is to supervise and aid the forensic team to do their job. And the composition of the forensic team is that they are divided into 10 departments. Ten audit firms. Out of the nine states that are in the NDDC community, one audit firm will handle a state and then one will handle the headquarters to make sure that we do not waste time because this audit must be done swiftly and competently,” he said.
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