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’’.
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.
176 total views, 1 views today