The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Sen.Godswill Akpabio,on Friday urged the National Assembly to check abuses in budgeting procedures of the Niger Delta Development Commission(NDDC).
Akpabio made the call at the investigative hearing of Senate Ad -Hoc Committee over alleged N40 billion financial misappropriation by the second Interim Management Commitee(IMC) of the NDDC.
Making submissions, Akpabio said there were situations where money budgeted had been drastically and illegally reduced by some members of the National Assembly against the originally approved fund.
According to him, the Niger Delta region can only benefit from the activities of the NDDC maximally, if the budgeting processing is rejiged.
He said there was need for governance structure to regulate the way things are done at the Commission .
The minister, who insisted that the forensic audit of the NDDC was the best way of clearing the rot in the commission that had existed since inception, called on all stakeholders including National Assembly to genuinely support the effort of President Muhammadu.
He said the call for support on all stakeholders would ensure that the money for the NDDC was used for the people of the Niger Delta.
” The reason why you hear so much hue and cry about the NDDC is because of President Buhari’s approval for a Forensic Audit”, he said .
He disclosed that in a particular instance, N10 billion was put in the budget but some people went into a hotel in Abuja and reduced it to N100 million, saying that the figure failed to achieve any result.
Akpabio told participants that as Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, he had never awarded any contract since he assumed office except the contract for COVID-19 palliatives.
In her own submission , the former Managing Director of the Commission , Dr Yimebe Nunieh ,said out of the N81billion spent by the Commission between October 2019 to May only N8billion was expended by IMC under her leadership from Oct. 29, 2019 to Feb. 18.
In defending the current IMC, on expenditures, incumbent Managing Director, Prof. Keme Pondei, threatened that he would resign if the allegation of corruption against him are proven by his critics.
Dismissing the allegations before the Committee,
Pondei said: “If anyone has any evidence that I collected even one percent from any contractor, let him present it and I will resign instantly. ”
“We need to be very careful in making spurious allegations that distract the NDDC
In his remarks, the Chairman of the Committee, Sen. Olubunmi Adetunbi ( APC Ekiti North ), declared that the essence of the investigation was to make sure the common wealth of Niger Delta works for the people of the Niger Delta.
According to him, the investigation is not about missing money but about ensuring that money gets into the right pocket to promote the best interests of the Niger Delta region and its people.
The committee Chairman also told participants that at the end of the investigation, those who specialize in hijacking peoples money would be put out of business.