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Cases Of Corruption : Interim Management Committee Of NDDC And The National Assembly Trade Blames

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By Elizabeth Chukwuma

The battle line  appear  to  have  been drawn between the National Assembly  Comprising of the Senate  and the House of Representatives and the Interim Management Committee, IMC, of the Niger Delta Commission, NDDC.  This is because of the allegations of Corruption in the agency .

  Kemebradikumo  Pondei, a Professor and acting Managing Director of the Commission , under the ministry of Niger Delta, with Godsill Akpabio, a former governor of  Akwa Ibom state and Senator of Federal Republic of Nigeria, as the supervising minister.

Pndei had initiated Controversy when  he accused the National Assembly NNDC Committee of padding the agency budgets. He had cited  the  agency 2019 budget  of N346.5 billion , alleging that it was padded with about  500 non- existent projects , noting that ’’ huge amount had been appropriated  for the projects’’. The Professor  may have opened up  on the NDDC Committee members  in the National Assembly when he revealed  that when the  agency yearly budgets are sent to the Committee for review andapproval,  it would be doctored in such a way that’’ it would not come back  the way it was sent to the Committee’’.

Godswell Akpabio: Minister Of Niger Delta

The NNDC, acting Managing Director  may have  further exposed  the Lawmakers to  public ridicule when he said  that what the budget appropriations Committees  had done was to ensure that approved projects  for the Niger Delta Communities  in the nine  states : Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Imo Ondo and Rivers,  being serviced by the agency  were denied of funds. He had said that  that the implementation of ‘’ the 2019 budgetary  allocations  to the agency will expire on May 31, 2020, without a single project  being executed  due to lack of fund’’.

Cairo Ojugboh, the agency Executive Director , Projects  may have Corroborated the Claims of Pndei , the agency   Interim Managing Director, when he allegedly confirmed that the ‘’Senators  and members of the  House of Representative were behind  the  fraud  in the agency.

The Lawmakers may not have found the allegations of Pondei,  the agency  Interim Managing Director  and Ojugbo, the Director of projects    funny that they  have  threatened to go ahead with the probe  of the agency in order to force  the duo  to provide evidence of alleged  Corruption  claims  against the NDDC   Senate and the House Committee members to the Ibrahim Magu led Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, for investigation.

Akinola Bashiru,  a Senator of Federal Republic of Nigeria and spokesperson of the Hallowed Chamber may have spoken the mind of Lawan Ahmed, the Senate President when he said that ‘’no amount of blackmail against the Lawmakers or the institution of the National Assembly  by the NDDC, top management  would stop  the ongoing investigations into the financial transactions  of the Commission .

An aggrieved  Bashiru , who could not hide his feelings  disclosed  they are at a loss  at the repeated   allegations of Corruption that had been  made by Ojugboh, the agency  Executive Director Projects against them.  He disclosed that  even when  the agency  is under  scrutiny  of Forensic Audit  and Investigation by the National Assembly, Ojugboh has not stopped making unguarded Statements describing his allegations  as ‘’baseless  and unsubstantiated’’.

He averred  that if Ojugboh  is Conversant with  the Constitutional  mandate of the Lawmakers to carry out oversight function over all agencies  spending tax payers money , with a view ‘’to exposing  and preventing  corruption , abuse and inefficiency’’, he would not have  opened his mouth too wide to bring the Lawmakers to public ridicule.

 The Lawmaker opined  that ‘’it stands  logic  on the head  to claim  that  by invoking  its Constitutional  Power of oversight  to investigate  the activities of the  NDDC Interim Management Committee, IMC,  the National Assembly  intention was  ‘’scuttle the Forensic Audit’’  instituted by President Muhammadu Buhari.

He was said to have  told those that cares  to listen that the National Assembly oversight functions was  basically aimed at  facilitating  rapid  and sustainable  development  in the Niger Delta  as well as  ensuring ‘’ensuring  proper application  of Funds in the region’’.

An aggrieved Bashir, the Senate spokesperson, maintains that no matter the  Campaign of Calumny against the Lawmakers, the National Assembly  would do everything within its powers  ‘’reposition NDDC in order to address  the challenges of the region   through sustainable  development of the region’’.

He was said to have assured  the people  of the Niger Delta  that there was no cause for alarm over the National Assembly intention  stressing that ‘’it is naturally  concerned   about the allegations  of  poor Management  and  outright fraud in  the Management  of the Funds  and operations of the Commission’’.

The questions on the lips of most people was’’if the Law makers’  claim that its intention of investigating the Commission  was to ensure proper Management of its Financial allocations from the Federation  Accounts for execution of projects in the region, why did Pndei, the agency  Managing Director, reveal that he is under pressure from the Lawmakers  not to tender some particular  documents of the agencyfor Forensic Audit’’.

Many  believe  that the intervention of the EFCC, may save   the  war of words between the National Assembly and the commission. There are fears in both official and  unofficial  Circles  that with the way the case is dragging on,  the Lawmakers   who may  not want Pndei , the NDDC, acting Managing Director and Ojugboh, the Executive Director Projects  to rubbish their image, as they may  put pressure on the Katsina state born Nigerian President to dissolve  the  IMC of the NDDC and set up a new one. Whether the President would bow to such pressures  remain  to be seen.            

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Stephen Ubanna

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