By Musa Sunusi Ahmad
The senate has asked the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to refund the N4.923 billion alleged illegal payments made to staff of the commission and contractors in breach of the procurement process.
The upper chamber said that this refund should be made to the account of NDDC with immediate effect.
According to a report from News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), this resolution was sequel to the adoption of recommendations of the Senate Ad-hoc Committee, investigating the alleged misappropriation of N40 billion by the current IMC.
The recommendation of the committee was presented on the floor of the senate by its Chairman, Senator Adetunbi.
A breakdown of the refund which the senate wants refunded includes Overseas Travel to the United Kingdom N85.7million, Scholarship grants N105.5 million, Union Members’ trip to Italy N164.2 million.
The other refunds which the senate wants made to the NDDC’s Account by the IMC are: payment made for Lassa Fever Kit N1.96 billion, payment for Public Communication valued at N1.12 billion, and COVID-19 fund expenditure N1.49 billion.
Some of the other recommendations which were approved by the senate are
That all expenditures on historical contracts and obligations like hotels, court judgment among others be refunded, as the payments were not provided for in the budget.
That henceforth, the NDDC should report directly to President Muhammadu Buhari.
That the President should dissolve the IMC and set up a board for the commission.
That oversight of the forensic audit should be transferred to the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation, to ensure transparency. The Senate asked the Federal Government to appoint a renowned auditor to supervise the forensic audit.
The strengthening of the NDDC’s procurement department through appropriate staff engagement, by appointing staff with procurement chartered status, improved staff training among other policies on procurement process.
A review of the corporate social responsibility of the NDDC, adding that it was difficult to find a correlation between the Niger Delta community development and the cash invested in the zone.
According to the upper legislative chamber, the continued cash injection in the Niger Delta has not worked under the various Interim Management Committees.
The senate while asking for government’s intervention, wants them to do away with the IMC and properly constitute a board with a specific mandate to address the problems in the Niger Delta
The Senate harped on the need for government to intervene, by stepping down the IMC and properly constitute a board with specific mandate, to address the pains of the Niger Delta people.
It can be recalled the Senate and the House of Representatives have been having a running battle with members of the IMC for NDDC and the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio over the affairs of the commission.
The 2 chambers of the national assembly had set up ad-hoc committees to investigate the alleged mismanagement of N40 billion by the IMC within a period of 3 months.