The House of Representatives has resolved to investigate the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) over the N70.495 billion allegedly paid to 1,773 contractors as mobilisation fees for contracts which have not been executed.
Chairman of the House Committee on Public Accounts, Wole Oke, who announced this during the Committee’s investigative hearing at the weekend, directed the NDDC Acting Managing Director, Pondei Kemerbrandikumo, to provide details of the projects and list of all defaulting contractors.
Oke also demanded the statements of account showing the recovered funds as claimed by the NDDC Acting Director of Internal Audit, Itu Ubi who argued that only N19 billion is yet to be recovered from the contractors.
The Auditor General of the Federation had issued 219 audit queries to the NDDC which showed that 90% of the contractors engaged by the Commission collected the mandatory mobilisation fees for contracts that ought to be completed within 6 months without reporting to site between 2011 and 2012.
According to the Audit report, during the Auditor General of the Federation’s investigation, 60% of the contractors made claims that they have completed the projects but the claims could not be verified.
The report also indicated that some contractors who failed to execute projects were being recycled by the Commission, noting that the action taken by NDDC Management has done more harm than good to the system over the years.
The Auditor General of the Federation recommended in the report that the House Committee on Public Accounts cause the NDDC Management to explain why the contractors failed to execute the projects after collecting the mobilization fees, status of the bonds signed by the contractors and why appropriate actions should not be applied to the contractors.
But the representative of the NDDC Acting Managing Director, Ubi explained that the said funds were released to the banks that guaranteed the contractors, insisting that the funds have been recovered from some of the erring contractors, remaining the balance of N19 billion outstanding as against the N70 billion outstanding stated in the audit queries.
He said the Management of NDDC has done everything possible to recover the outstanding money from the banks, adding that some of the contractors were unable to complete the projects due to the general insecurity situation in the Niger Delta region.
Chairman of the Committee, Oke who expressed displeasure over the failure of NDDC to address various issues raised in the audit queries between 2008 and 2012, said: “what the Auditor-General did was to invoke section 4 of the Audit Act to discover the anomalies in the NDDC.
“The main issue is whether the Interim Management Committee has rendered the account up to 2018. We stopped at 2018 due to the coronavirus pandemic, but clearly there are issues here and there”.