Daily Metro News NG
The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) spent a combined sum of N1.14billion on what it called ‘public communication’ without justification and outside its mandate, a Senate report has shown.
On pages 89 and 90 of the report, the Senate Adhoc Committee on the investigation of the alleged Financial Recklessness in the NDDC detailed how the Commission through its first and second Interim Management Committees (IMCs) spent a total of N36m and N1.1bn respectively on public communication.
According to the report published by LEADERSHIP, other expenditures by the NDDC were on campaigns against electoral violence and voter’s awareness on Not-Too-Young-To-Run law in the Niger Delta region carried out on May 14, 2020.
The activities were carried out outside the mandate of the Commission as prescribed by the Part III of the NDDC Establishment Act.
“Of the amount under IMC 2, N156,813,025 was disbursed through staff of the Commission.
“The expenditure of N89.5million on ‘sponsorship of campaign against electoral violence, voter’s awareness on Not-Too-Young-To-Run Act for the Niger Delta region. ‘Not-Too-Young-To-Run’ issue occurred in the build-up towards the presidential election in the early 2019 and was never an issue in 2020. This was also not a case of settlement of arrears.
“Broadly, NDDC is charged with infrastructural development, ecological and environmental issues. Nothing in its mandate authorises it to engage in political campaign as indicated in the expenditure of N89million on the ‘Not-Too-Young-To-Run’ campaign. It should be noted that the ‘Not-Too-Young-To-Run’ issue was a national campaign and the President signed it into law in May, 2018. It certainly was not an issue peculiar only to the Niger Delta.
“This further shows the disbursement as another clear example of gross abuse and misappropriation of public funds,” the committee pointed out.
It added that it was even doubtful if the campaigns ever took place especially at the height of COVID-19 national lockdown when the payment was made.
“It is the view of the Committee that all the 41 members of staff who partook in this gross abuse should refund in full the amount each received,” describing it as ‘financial recklessness’ of IMC 2.
It will be recalled that the Senate had set up the seven-member ad-hoc committee to probe the alleged financial recklessness of the IMC of the NDDC.
The committee was specifically asked to probe the IMC for allegedly squandering N40 billion in three months and seek account for other financial transactions within this period.
It was chaired by Senator Olubunmi Adetunbi (APC, Ekiti North) with Halliru Jika (APC, Bauchi Central), Tanko Almakura (APC, Nasarawa South), Abdulfatai Buhari (APC, Oyo North ), Chukwuka Utazi ( PDP, Enugu North), Ibrahim Hadeija (APC Jigawa North East ) and Degi – Eremienyo Biobarakuma (APC, Bayelsa East ) as members.
The resolution to set up the committee followed deliberation on a Motion on the “Urgent need to investigate alleged financial recklessness in the NDDC” sponsored by Senator George Sekibo from Rivers State.
The committee’s report was submitted and adopted by the Senate two weeks ago and awaiting President Muhammadu Buhari’s further action.