President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday ordered a forensic audit of the operations of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) from 2001 to 2019.
President Buhari in statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Chief Femi Adesina, said the action was taken out of worry over criticisms of the operations of the commission, and after he received governors of the states that make up the Commission, led by Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State, who had called for the repositioning of the NDDC.
According to the President, what is presently on the ground in the South-south region does not justify the huge resources that have been made available to the organisation.
He said, “I try to follow the Act setting up these institutions, especially the NDDC. With the amount of money that the Federal Government has religiously allocated to the NDDC, we will like to see the results on the ground; those that are responsible for that have to explain certain issues.
“The projects said to have been done must be verifiable. You just cannot say you spent so much billions and when the place is visited, one cannot see the structures that have been done. The consultants must also prove that they are competent. “
The President admitted that developing the Niger Delta area required enormous resources compared to other parts of the country with firmer lands.
He said, “I am acutely aware, with my experience, that projects in your area are very expensive; that is why if any job is given, we must make sure that the company is competent and has the capacity to do it well with experienced consultants.”
He, however, said that he would wait for the report of the audit before deciding on the next line of action regarding the NDDC.
Governor Dickson had earlier expressed the disappointment of other governors with the operations of the NDDC, which they said was characterised by poor choice of projects, shoddy handling, uncompleted jobs and lack of the required support for the efforts of the states and local government administration in the region covered by the organisation.
He called for the repositioning of the NDDC in order to achieve the objectives for which it was set up.
Briefing journalists after the meeting, Dickson, who is also chairman of the South-South Governors Forum, listed the NDDC states as Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Delta, Edo, Cross River, Bayelsa, Abia, Imo and Ondo.
He said, “Our concern has to do with the stability and development of the Niger Delta. We had a robust discussion with Mr. President who fully understands the challenges that come with development, and he promised to look into the challenges which he’s aware of and we all agreed to work together. “
Present at the meeting were Governors Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta); Nyesom Wike (Rivers); Dickson (Bayelsa); deputy governor of Edo State, Philip Shaibu; Minister of Niger Delta, Godswill Akpabio; Minister of State for Niger Delta, Tayo Alasoadura; among others.