……REAFFIRMS COMMITMENT TO PROPER UTILIZATION OF PUBLIC FUNDS
The Federal Government has said that it will apply the law to remedy the deficiencies outlined in the forensic audit report of the Niger-Delta Development Commission (NDDC) pointing that as appropriate, this will include but not limited to initiation of criminal investigation, prosecution, recovery of funds not properly utilized for the public purposes for which they were meant for.
President Muhammadu Buhari(GCFR) made this known when the Honourable Minister of Niger Delta Affairs Senator (Dr.) Godswill Obot Akpabio, CON and his team presented the report of the forensic audit of the Niger Delta Development Commission in Abuja on Thursday September 2nd 2021.
Buhari who was represented by the Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice (HAGF) Abubakar Malami SAN, explained that the President gave direction for the forensic audit report to be forwarded to the Federal Ministry of Justice for legal review and relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government will be engaged in doing justice to the findings accordingly.
According to HAGF, ‘’you will recall that the President had ordered for a holistic forensic audit of the activities of the Commission from inception to August 2019 in response to the yearnings of the people of the Niger Delta Region to reposition it for effective service delivery’’.
He added that it was imperative to state that, the call for audit by the people of the Niger Delta Region arose from the huge gaps between resources invested in the region vis-a-vis the huge gap in infrastructural, human and economic development.
‘’It is on record that between 2001 and 2019, the Federal Government has approved Three Trillion, Three Hundred and Seventy Five Billion, Seven hundred and thirty five million, Seven Hundred and Seventy Six Thousand, Seven Hundred and Ninety Four Naira, Ninety Three Kobo (N3,375,735,776,794.93) as a budgetary allocation and Two Trillion, Four Hundred and Twenty Billion, Nine Hundred and Forty Million ,and Eight Hundred and Ninety Four Thousand, One Hundred and Ninety One Naira( N2,420,948,894,191.00) as income from Statutory and non-Statutory Sources, which bring the total figure to the sum of approximately Six Trillion Naira given to the Niger Delta Development Commission’’, Malami further added.
The Minister also explained that as part of the measures of the administration to address challenges militating against the delivery of the mandate of the NDDC to her people, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved the engagement of a Lead Forensic Auditor, as well as sixteen (16) reputable Audit Firms to conduct the audit exercise.
The Attorney-General noted that it was in the broader context of the foregoing developments that the President recently signed into Law the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) which has been a contentious issue over the years for successive government to bring about prudence and accountability in the Petroleum Sector and to give a sense of participation and ownership to the Host communities.
He assured that the Report on the forensic audit and their recommendations will be critically analysed for necessary action and implementation adding that the government owed it a duty to the people of Niger Delta Region to improve their standard of living through the provision of adequate infrastructural and socio-economic development.
The Federal Government is particularly concerned with the colossal loss occasioned by uncompleted and unverified development projects in the region, in spite of the huge resources made available to uplift the living standard of the citizens.
‘’We have on record over 13,777 projects, the execution of which is substantially compromised, and FG is also concerned with the multitude of NDDC’s bank accounts amounting to 362 and lack of proper reconciliation of accounts’’. HAGF emphasized.
In his speech, the Honourable Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Dr. Godswill Obot Akpabio explained the brief history of the national assignment, the challenges and success, as well as the findings and recommendation inherent in the report of the Forensic Auditors.
He highlighted the assignments carried out by the auditors as follows; Examination and documentation of a total of thirteen thousand seven hundred and seventy seven contracts for projects and programmes awarded to contractors in Niger Delta States from 2001 to August 2019.
‘’The exact status of all contracts for projects and programmes in all the constituent states during the period under view were classified into completed, on-going ,abandoned, terminated, taken –over and non –existing or not started’ ’. The Minister explained.
Funding gaps, irregularities, mismanagement and Due process violation were observed. A personnel Audit and review of governance and organizational structure of NDDC was also carried out as well as analysis of available financial records with the aim of establishing the total amount of funds received by the commission from all sources.
The Lead Forensic Auditor, Alhaji Kabir Ahmed, while presenting a brief overview of the report, lamented that there was no visible justification between the amount of resources invested into the Commission compared with the level of development recorded over the same period of time, identify the problems that led to such abysmal failure and recommended measures that would address the problems.
‘’After about sixteen months of intensive and extensive work, in compliance with the Terms and Reference, the committee is today presenting four reports namely: Consolidated report of the NDDC Forensic Audit Exercise covering 13, 777 projects and services awarded by the Commission between 2001 and August 2019; Personnel Audit and Review of Management and Governance Structure in line with International best Practices; the Review of Processes, Operational Guideline and Financial Manual for the Commission including guidelines for the implementation of the proposed reforms to ensure effective compliance; and Detailed Printed Report submitted by each of the sixteen State Forensic Auditors covering the total number of (13,777) projects and programmes awarded by the Commission and examined in each state’’. He further explained.
The Audit exercise which covered the Nine states of the region was carried out by Olumuyiwa Basiru and Co. Audit Firm as the Lead Consultant, while Sixteen other Forensic Auditors gave their support while the exercise lasted.
Deputy Director (Information)
2nd September, 2021