The Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), a socio-political group in the oil-producing communities of the South-South region of the country, has lauded the leadership of the National Assembly on the decision to investigate the alleged financial improprieties in the Niger Delta Development Commission. (NDDC).
The allegations were said to come to the fore when it was discovered that huge amounts of public funds had been expended within three months, without due process, by the management of the Commission.
” PANDEF, therefore, welcomes the setting up of Committees by both Chambers of the National Assembly to investigate the allegations.
“The probes would help determine the validity or otherwise of the assertions, and save the people of the region from the anguish of the ignominy.
“We further commend the spirit of patriotism demonstrated by the South-South caucus in both Chambers, particularly, Senator Thompson George Sekibo of Rivers state and Honourable Peter Akpatason of Edo state, for supporting the motions that called for the investigation, in the Senate and House of Representatives respectively,” the group said in a statement by Idongesit Nkanga, its national chairman.”
It stated further that PANDEF had supported the forensic audit of the Commission ordered by President Muhammadu Buhari last year, adding that backing the move was informed by the “appalling state of infrastructure in the region, and the commission’s continued failure to fast-track the region’s development.”
It alleged that NDDC has been characterized with non-performance, poor management, misapplication and misappropriation of resources, and reckless perversion of its set objectives, while the Region is littered with abandoned projects.
It hoped that the forensic audit would expose and bring to book those behind the alleged corruption in the NDDC while it would instil financial propriety in the management of the commission, correct the years of underperformance, and subsequently, reposition the interventionist agency for better service delivery to the Region.
“President Muhammadu Buhari may have had good intentions in ordering the forensic audit, following the sack of the previous Board, and the subsequent appointment of an Interim Management Committee to oversee the affairs of the Commission for the period of the audit.
“We further recall that, when some persons in the Region, who were opposed to the setting up of the IMC and jettisoning of the Board, which they considered an aberration of the NDDC Act, threatened violent protestations, PANDEF intervened and appealed for support for the IMC to carry out its assignment.
“However, it is increasingly becoming difficult not to doubt if the process had not been hijacked by desperate politicians for selfish purposes. The Commission has been snared in a web of intrigues and counter intrigues since last year.
“Regrettably, it is the people of the region that suffer the bane of the debauchery and continued failure of the Commission to deliver on its mandate.
“Critical stakeholders of the region are concerned over these developments at the NDDC, and President’s reported extension of the period of the Interim Management Committee to December 2020.”
It implored the committees of both the Nigerian Senate and the House of Representatives saddled with the task to rise above board, and write their names in gold, by conducting a thorough investigation, without fear or favour.
Noting that “they should be mindful of persons with vested interests that may attempt to frustrate or compromise the investigation, it added that pressures might be put on the National Assembly even by highly placed individuals of South-South extraction to abandon this enquiry.
“We thus urge members of the National Assembly to be true patriots, and not accommodate partisan considerations in this probe, because the hope of the people of the Niger Delta region and indeed Nigerians, for an improved NDDC is at stake.”