The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) forensic auditors will any time from today move to the nine Delta states for field assessment of the intervention agency’s projects.
The first leg of the forensic audit, said the NDDC Interim Management Committee, has already been completed by the Lead auditor, Enst and Young.
The Executive Director in charge of Projects at the NDDC, Dr Cairo Ojougboh, who made this known to The Nation, disclosed that the files of all NDDC contracts from inception till date had been handed over to the field auditors to move to the states for the second stage of the audit.
Ojougboh also defended the over N1.32 billion spent by the commission as palliative funds for the IMC and staff members of the agency. He wondered why federal lawmakers were raising eyebrow over the funds when they also got millions each as palliative allowance from the National Assembly.
He accused the lawmakers of being scared of the forensic audit and described the non-passage of the NDDC 2020 budget by them as an act of blackmail.
The Executive Director said: “It (forensic audit) has started. The National Assembly wanted to truncate it. They said they will not pass our budget. You know the forensic audit is in two stages. We have procured the lead auditors and they are at work, they have all the files of all the contracts at the NDDC from inception till date.
“The second stage is to send the various auditors to each of the states and the National Assembly people know that’s where they are culpable so they stopped our budget, but the President (Muhammadu Buhari) said the forensic audit must continue. And that is why he is funding it directly from the Presidency.
“The lead auditors have finished their initial job, they have written their report. Now each of the states will have one auditor looking at all the contracts and projects in it. These auditors will now go to the states.”
Nothing that the National Assembly was bent on stalling the forensic audit, Ojougboh said the recent expose of some of its members believed to be culpable in the contract scam at the NDDC was nothing compared to the number of names and personalities yet to be named.
The executive director added that by the time the list of beneficiaries of NDDC contracts for 2017 and 2019 is released, Nigerians would shudder
He vowed that the NDDC would, under the current IMC, accomplish its mission of developing the oil-rich Niger Delta not minding whose ox is gored.
He said: The forensic audit that the President has instituted that scares some of the National Assemby members. They are culpable. At the end of the forensic audit, you will see some members of the National Assembly.
“A Senator came and said that in the list of 2016 they brought, that he had only six contracts, I said no, that he had more. What he didn’t know is that we did not release the list for 2017 and the one for 2019. If we release it, this country will break because of the people looting the NDDC; I mean they are people of high caliber.
“You may ask ‘who engineers it (the probe)? They are the chairmen of the NDDC in the Senate and House of Representatives.
“The National Assembly, through the instrumentality of the chairmen of the House and Senate, sabotaged our budget. If you give them report, they will say you did not bring performance report, but we brought everything that they asked us to bring. They used the budget as an instrument of blackmail.
“They have blackmailed the nation and the Niger Delta people in the last 20 years. That is why you see that you cannot go to the Niger Delta today and see 10 kilometers of dualised road done by the NDDC. What you see are 500 metres and 200 meters of roads done here and there that cost one billion each.”
On the query raised by the House of Representatives Committee over the monies spent by the IMC as palliatives to the IMC and NDDC staffers, the executive director said there was not wrong with it.
His words: “They are talking about COVID-19 payments. The Federal Government is giving every citizen N30,000. Do you know how much Federal Government has spent? The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and many other corporations have been giving COVID-19 allowances, which are within their purview just like NDDC did.