By Henry Umoru & Joseph Erunke
ABUJA—THE Senate Committee on Public Accounts, yesterday, directed authorities of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, to submit all approval evidences for 1,691 contracts it awarded within seven days for verification.
The order was sequel to the failure of the commission to provide evidence of approval for the 1,691 contracts out of the entire 1,697 contracts awarded by the commission to registered contractors between 2014 and 2016.
The committee, led by Senator Andy Uba, PDP, Anambra South, subsequently directed the commission to within seven days, furnish it with evidence of approval of all the contracts and relevant certificates of no objection from the Bureau of Public Procurement, BPP.
Failure of the commission to provide evidence of approval for the documented contracts came to the fore during vetting of its report by the committee, yesterday.
Apart from failure to provide approval evidence of contracts awarded, the commission was also queried by the committee for running 22 bank accounts before the implementation of Treasury Single Account, TSA, as against four approved for the commission by government.
The commission was also faulted by the committee for its huge tax debt profile of N28.7 billion against the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, and ordered it to start offsetting the debt forthwith.
The N28.7 billion tax debt profile of the commission as explained by its Acting Managing Director, Mrs Ibim Seminitari, arose from the N23 billion she met on ground and the N5.7 billion penalty slammed on it by FIRS, saying payment agreement had been entered into by the two agencies.
Failure of the commission to include income figures in its 2016 report on income and expenditure also put it under fire during the session, with a member of the committee, Bassey Akpan (PDP Akwa Ibom North East), accusing the NDDC management of deliberate omission.
Though the NDDC Acting Managing Director, Mrs Ibim Seminitari informed the committee that a total of N23.5 billion had been given to the commission by the Federal Government in addition to N87.1 billion proceeds made from oil companies.
Responding, Seminitari said: “We will try as requested. There were errors in the past issues about award of contracts. We are trying to correct and improve on our standards.”