The Interim Management Committee, IMC, of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, has accused members of the National Assembly of conspiring to stop the forensic audit ordered by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The IMC also claimed that if it releases the list of those involved in the looting from the commission, the country will be broken.
The Executive Director in charge of Projects at NDDC, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh, said this while speaking in Abuja. He said Nigerians would be surprised if the commission disclosed the names and caliber of people involved in a contract scam in 2017 and 2019, especially among members of the National Assembly.
Recall that the Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday of last week approved the forensic audit of some 12 thousand NDDC contracts.
But Dr. Ojougboh alleged that the recent pressure from the National Assembly to investigate IMC activities was instigated by fear of forensic audit.
He said that the IMC’s mission in the NDDC and the Niger Delta region is to ensure that every naira that has been placed in the region through the commission is accounted for and promised that the committee would go to any lengths to ensure that the mission is accomplished, no matter who the gored ox is.
The NDDC Executive Director of Projects criticized the National Assembly for condemning the monthly advance of N51 million for the Commission’s Acting Managing Director’s office and the advance of ND 18 million for his office, saying that money is not money. staff but for the maintenance of the place especially in security.
He alleged that a senior member of the South-South National Assembly whom he accused of working against the IMC has a cumulative advance of around N100 million per month without the kind of security challenges faced by the NDDC administration on a daily basis.
According to him, “My doctor feeds 100 police officers every day and in Port Harcourt as an NDDC executive, you need security more than anything, until tomorrow, you know. When they send these policemen, the instruction is to feed them, take care of them, that is what is in the letter that the police hierarchy sent.
“So people are talking about 51 million advances for the CEO, it is a vote of security, it is not for their personal pocket, the money does not go to the CEO’s account. I myself, N18 million, it does not go to my account, it goes for security and other expenses and it is retired, there is no fraud “.
He said that when President Buhari nominated them, and they arrived at the NDDC office in Port Harcourt, the capital of Rivers State, the first thing they noticed was that the two presidents (NDDC Committee) in the National Assembly, were the “administration of facto, the managers and the executive of NDDC “.
He said that as a former member of the National Assembly and a former liaison officer with the president, he has been in the Chambers and throughout his life has been in government from 1999 to date. “So I know what time of day it is in politics and in governance. So we told them it couldn’t continue to function as usual and then they said we should go. “
When asked what was the cause of the sudden interest of the National Assembly in the activities of the IMC, he said: “God bless you. It is the forensic audit that the president has instituted because the National Assembly is guilty. At the end of the forensic audit, you will see members of the National Assembly.
“A senator came and said that in the list of 2016 that they brought, that he had only six contracts, I said no, that he had more. What I didn’t know is that we don’t publish the 2017 and 2019 list. If we publish it, this country will break down. “
When also asked why the country should go bankrupt, he said: “Oh, because of the people looting, the caliber, the names and the people looting the NDDC. And who designs it? The presidents of the NDDC in the Senate and the House of Representatives in the National Assembly.
“So when I explained to him, I said to the president, look, my work here is very simple. Mr President, look, even if it is the only thing in my life that I can make sure that things work out so that the people of the Niger Delta benefit from the NDDC.
“You can call me by any name, you can do anything, you can say anything, I don’t care, but I must do the right thing and the right thing is not to miss a penny.”
In addition, he alleged that the National Assembly had planned to truncate the progress of the forensic audit through various means; first using the probes of the committees and then refusing to sign the budget, saying that the refusal to sign the budget is an instrument of blackmail against the IMC.
He said: “Look, the National Assembly sabotaged, through the instrumentality of the Presidents of the House and the Senate, they sabotaged … if you give them a report, they will say that it did not bring a performance report. We brought everything they asked for, but they used the budget as an instrument of blackmail.
“So they have blackmailed the nation and the Niger Delta in the last 20 years, so you see that you can’t go to the Niger Delta today and see ten kilometers of dualized roads made by the NDDC, no. What do you see, 500 meters here, 200 meters there and all one billion each, ”he said.
However, he said that despite the National Assembly’s efforts to gag the IMC and thwart the forensic audit, the audit process had progressed as the first stage of the work had already concluded and the second and final stage would soon begin.
He said: “It has begun. Why are we here if not? The National Assembly wanted to truncate it, they said they will not approve our budget. You know that the forensic audit is developed in two stages; We have hired the lead auditors and they are working, they have all the files of all the contracts in the NDDC from inception to date.
“The second stage is to send the different auditors to each of the states, the people of the National Assembly know that that is where they are guilty for what they stopped our budget, but the president said that the forensic audit must continue that will finance it .
“The main auditors have finished their initial work, they have written their report, now each of the states will have an auditor who will review all contracts and projects. That’s why we came here today. These auditors will now return to the states tomorrow, once we finish here today and the Council approves it. “
On the allegations of misappropriation against the IMC by National Assembly committees, Ojougboh said the allegations were just another blackmail attempt, explaining that the IMC had not awarded a single contract, but had been working out what described as mandatory debts of the NDDC. to your contractors.
“That’s the problem. The reason they are promoting those billions is just to give us a bad name, the billions that are mandatory debt payments. The payment is not for me, every year the NDDC spends between four hundred and five hundred billion, is the debt we meet on land.
“People have done their job, are we going to say that they shouldn’t be paid? We have not awarded a contract, people take us to court every day. So we look at the projects, approve them, and pay for them. They said that we spent, but we did not spend, rather we paid historical debts ”, he explained.
He further said: “They are talking about the payment of COVID-19, the federal government is given to each citizen N30,000 each, do you know how much the federal government has spent? The CBN and many other corporations have been awarding COVID-19 allocations, which are within their purview, as did NDDC.
“In the National Assembly, each of the senators received N20 million, while the members of the House of Representatives received N15 million for COVID-19 from the National Assembly. All received COVID19 allocations. “
When asked if the money spent by the commission on COVID-19 relief was budgeted, he said the money was spent in an emergency.
He said: “It was not budgeted because it was an emergency, it is allowed. It comes under emergency. The N30,000 per person that the federal government is giving to the citizen, was it budgeted? Did anyone budget for COVID-19? No one budgeted for COVID-19. The SGF is the chair of the COVID-19 working group in Nigeria, was that working group budgeted? It is an emergency and it is allowed.
“What we are saying is that Nigerians must appreciate the President. Like when we got to the headquarters building, no one thought that the building could be completed. Today we have completed it, we are inside, but they will come to tell you that we are inside an unfinished building, which is a very big lie.
“We are inside the building which is where I go to work every day. It’s all propaganda from Omo-Agege (vice president of the Senate) and his cohorts just because they want to kick us out for political reasons and if we didn’t go there, the headquarters building wouldn’t be finished. “