By Levinus Nwabughiogu
A Civil Society Organization, Act for Positive Transformation Initiative, APTI has written to the National Assembly, asking it to stop the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC from making further procurements and payment of allowances except for salaries of staff.
This, APTI said was in view of the expiration of NDDC’s 2019 budget on May 31, 2020.
In a letter dated June 29, 2020, addressed to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, APTI said that the commission through the Interim Management Committee, IMC has abused all extant laws regulating its activities.
It will be recalled that the National Assembly has taken a resolution to probe alleged misappropriation of N40 billion in the Commission.
Titled “Save the Niger Delta Development Commission Now,” the letter which was received by the office of the Speaker on June 30, 2020, was signed by the CSO’s Head, Directorate of Research, Strategy and Programs, Kolawole Johnson and made available to Journalists.
Johnson in the letter further stated that the commission was yet to submit its 2019 budget performance to enable the parliament to begin legislative work on the 2020 budget submitted to the National Assembly and therefore should not be allowed to make expenditures.
The letter read in parts: “That the National Assembly directs the Commission to stop all forms of procurement; That the National Assembly directs the commission and relevant agencies to stop all forms of payment from the commission’s account. A proper account must be given for the over 80Billion Naira squandered by the commission between January and May 2020; that the commission should be allowed to pay salaries only; That the National Assembly directs the commission to stop payments of all forms of allowances as this has been grossly abused.
“The Interim Management Committee members pay themselves, monthly, several illegal allowances running into hundreds of millions. Same is extended to some staff of the commission. An example is the payment of special imprest unknown to law.
“Members of the Interim Management Committee also use bank accounts of staff of the commission for such illegal payments.
“They also receive 10 million nairas monthly for hosting visitors. These payments are not connected to the money already provided in the budget for project monitoring, which has been overdrawn by over 180m in the last few months.
“That the National Assembly strives to save the commission from the monster of corruption through the ongoing probe. Among numerous agitations, our office is, in recent times, inundated with cries from students abroad under the commission’s scholarship who are currently stranded in different countries. While these students are facing untold hardship, the present Interim Management Committee members are busy paying themselves money due to students”.
APTI pleaded with the National Assembly to make the probe of the alleged misappropriation of N40 billion a live telecast to enable Nigerians to follow the proceedings.
“We wish to reiterate our call for a live telecast of the public hearing”, Johnson said.