In reaction to the crisis rocking the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), President Muhammadu Buhari has said his administration is determined “to get to the root of the problem undermining the development” of the region.
The management of the NDDC has been accused of massive corruption.
With trillions of naira sunk into the region in two decades, infrastructural development has been sluggish. This informed Mr Buhari’s decision to order a forensic audit into the finances of the agency since inception.
The National Assembly has also been engaged in a series of probes, including into allegations of procurement infractions.
Mr Buhari, on his Twitter page on Thursday, said he has urged the National Assembly and the state’s law enforcement agencies “to pursue better coordination in their work, so that the shared goal of ensuring sanity, transparency and accountability of dedicated funds can be achieved.”
“All investigating agencies and auditing firms currently working collaboratively with National Assembly Committees to audit and reposition the NDDC must act with urgency and a sense of purpose, and ensure that I am kept informed of any and all actions being taken,” he added.
A series of investigations by this newspaper showed that while much funds have been released to the NDDC, many uncompleted projects dot the landscape of the oil-rich region.
The mismanagement in the commission led to the sack of Akwagaga Enyia as the commission’s head in October 2019.
Ms Enyia’s was succeeded by Joi Nunieh as head of the interim management committee of the commission but she was sacked four months later as the crisis rocking the commission over abuse of funds thickened.
PREMIUM TIMES exclusively learnt that Niger Delta minister, Godswill Akpabio, played a major role in the removal of Ms Nunieh.
Both officials have since been locked in a flurry of allegations and counter-allegations, with both parties accusing each other of corruption and illicit acts.
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President Buhari, in February, named Kemebradikumo Pondei, a professor of medicine, as Ms Nunieh’s replacement.
But the new management has not brought much stability to the commission. The budget defence session of the commission at the Senate was cut short on Tuesday following discrepancies in the commission’s budget report.
Likewise, an investigative hearing on Thursday in the House of Representatives ended in an impasse with the NDDC management accusing the House panel leadership of corruption.