Startling revelations on how the nation’s resources put in care of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) were allegedly being mismanaged emerged at an investigative public hearing organised by the Senate ad hoc Committee on Thursday.
The red chamber is investigating the alleged mismanagement of N40bn by the Expanded Interim Management Committee of the NDDC between October last year and May this year.
In his presentation on behalf of the EIMC at the forum, the Executive Director, Projects of the NDDC, Dr Cairo Ojougboh, said the allegations that his committee misapplied N40bn was false.
He said the commission’s debt profile when the EIMC took over was N3trn out of which N156.9bn had been processed and ready for payment.
He alleged that the influential members of the committees that were supervising the affairs of the NDDC at both chambers of the National Assembly instigated the probe because the EIMC stopped the various ways they were stealing the agency’s resources.
He alleged that a member of the Senate panel, linked to two consultancy outfits, Messrs Candour Capital Limited and Star line Consultancy Services, raked in N38bn within three years “without doing anything.”
He also said a serving member of the House of Representatives got N140m from the starline deal.
He said, “The termination of the two consultancy contracts is another reason the chairmen of the National Assembly Committees on NDDC have been hostile to the EIMC and why we are being probed on baseless allegations.
“The emergency repairs of Ajowa Akoko-Akunnu Akoko Road were meant to be a single contract valued at less than N750m.
“One of the National Assembly committees on NDDC chairmen coerced the then management to break it into four lots.
“This pushed the cost of the project to N2,931,655,712.69 (four times the project value). The contracts were awarded on 16 April, 2019, to four companies nominated or linked to him.
“We want to place on record that we were encouraged to honour this invitation because the Senate Committee on the Niger Delta was not going to handle the public hearing.
“The hands of the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Niger Delta are too soiled from turning the NDDC into a ‘cookie jar’ for him to be an objective investigator.
“The allegation that the EIMC has misapplied the sum of N40bn since inception is unfounded.
However, the Chairman of the Senate ad hoc panel, Senator Olubunmi Adetunmbi, said his team was probing the NDDC interim committee based on the documents which faulted its management of funds at its disposal.
Adetunmbi said available records from the EIMC revealed that it spent N81.5bn in eight months.
He said the EIMC chaired by Mrs Gbene Joi Nunieh spent N22.5bn out of the N81.5bn between October 2019 to February 18, 2020.
He added that the EIMC II chaired by Professor Daniel Pondei, spent the sum of N59.1bn between February 19, 2020 to May 31st 2020.