Board, management in push back over N1.4trn NDDC budget tiff
May 15, 2023105 views0 comments
By Ben Eguzozie
- Say: “We are not guilty of corruption”
- As another graft case trails commission
The board and management of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) say they are not guilty of any corruption or misappropriation of N1.4 trillion for the commission’s 2021 and 2022 budget estimates.
Rather, the commission said the concerns expressed by the Senate during its plenary recently “can be quickly resolved by providing the necessary documents and explanations”.
The upper legislative chamber of the National Assembly had at its session constituted an ad-hoc committee to probe the financial activities of the NDDC for 2021 and 2022 budget estimates. The Senate also stood down consideration of the commission’s 2023 budget for further information and clarification on the figures contained in the budget.
NDDC had presented to the two chambers of the legislature an aggregate expenditure of N485.7 billion in 2021, another N928.2 billion for 2022, and N876 billion for the current 2023 fiscal year, totalling N2.29 trillion.
According to Samuel Ogbukwu, NDDC’s managing director, in a statement in Port Harcourt through the corporate affairs director, Ibitoye Abosede, the commission respects the oversight function of the Senate; and is ready to cooperate with the investigation committee.
“The Commission has nothing to hide; and is committed to transparency and accountability in its operations,” he said.
He said: “It is important that we clarify that the Senate has not accused the Board and Management of the NDDC of corruption or misappropriation of N1.4 trn. The Senate only thinks that the funds were expended without approval or appropriation by the National Assembly. This misunderstanding can be quickly resolved by providing the necessary documents and explanations”.
But this is already being seen as, perhaps, another case of the many grafts episodes that have trailed the commission. Many economists and development analysts adduce that the NDDC in the 23 years of its existence as an interventionist development agency has been anything but fantastic. Rather than elicit excitement among the oil region communities, it has filled the people with graft and more graft.
According to Obiaraeri Nnaemeka Onyeka, over the last 23 years, the NDDC has received over N6 trillion or $12 billion from the Federation account…This huge amount is outside the huge allocations of over N1 trillion received by the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs since its establishment by the President (Umaru Musa) Yar’Adua government in 2008”.
Ogbukwu absolved the commission’s board and management of culpability in the delay in submitting its budgets and audited accounts to the National Assembly; but rather, that it was due to what he described as “bureaucratic bottlenecks and frequent leadership changes”.
The Commission has, however, taken steps to address these issues to ensure timely compliance with all statutory requirements, he explained.
He appealed to the public to refrain from making hasty judgments based on the Senate’s decision, assuring all stakeholders of the board and management’s dedication to the development of the Niger Delta region and the welfare of its people.