…Say no money lost in commission
By Joseph Erunke
AGAINST the backdrop of corruption allegations rocking the North East Development Commission, NEDC, some northern groups have risen in defence of the leadership of the organisation, saying contrary to insinuations in some quarters, those manning affairs of NEDC have not committed offence.
The groups under the aegis of Coalition of North East Civil Society Organisations and Voluntary Youths Organisations, VYO, said NEDC leadership has been transparent in its dealings at the commission.
Speaking at a news conference, Monday, in Abuja, the president of Northern Youths Council of Nigeria, Comrade Godiya Adam, claimed that the group had carried out independent findings and discovered that the alleged misappropriation of N100 billion in the commission was a hoax.
While hinting that it had passed a vote of confidence on the NEDC leadership, the groups ,according to Adam, demanded an apology from the House of Representatives on the alleged 100 billion it allegedly said was discovered to be misappropriation by NEDC
Their positions were contained in a prepared text, signed by Comrade Mohammed Rilwan, President of North East Youth Initiative for Peace and Good Governance (NEYIPGG);Comrade Haruna Abdulsalam, Coordinator, Conference of Civil Society Organization; Comrade Hamisu Saidu,for North East Youths Forum (NEYF) and Comrade Abubakar Askira who represented North East Rescue Vanguard ( NERV),circulated to newsmen at the event.
The groups said: “We are calling on the National Assembly to tender an unreserved apology to Nigerians for misleading the general public, by saying that N100 billion was misappropriated and diverted from the North East Development Commission (NEDC) within one year of its existence.”
The text of the briefing read further: “Members of this coalition particularly enjoined the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Minority Leader in the House of Representatives, Rep. Ndidi Elumelu, who moved the resolution for the probe of the NEDC to equally publish an apology letter in one of the reputable national dailies.
“Hon. Elumelu’s action has created unnecessary, avoidable confusion and distraction on the attention of the leadership of the commission with a malicious allegation against the organization.
“We believe that NEDC has performed credibly well and still contributing immensely to infrastructural and socio-economic development of the north east region.”
“We see the action of the lawmaker as a smear campaign against the Commission and to the north east which will eventually fail in its entirety.
“We wish to emphasize, categorically, that the resolution is also an attempt to smear and dent the good image of the commission’s leadership and by extension the north, despite the fact that the commission. had performed beyond expectations.
“We appeal to our legislators to concentrate their energy, in their constitutional role of law making and oversight functions, to enhance transparency and accountability in governance
“We note that the management of NEDC has maintained a harmonious relationship with the House of Representatives Committee on North East Development Commission.
“Even when the allegation came up, the leadership of the commission approached the law makers and admonished them to quickly investigate the lingering issue to ensure that Nigerians have first hand information about how the commission is being manage .
“Our investigation has revealed that NEDC never receive or get up to N100 billion allocation, since its inception to date and wonder how the NEDC spent what it doesn’t have.
“We recall that NEDC was inaugurated in May 2019 and did not get funding or allocation till in November, 2019.
“We dismiss the allegation of high handedness in the process of contract award in the commission.
“We see these allegations as a direct attack on the leadership of the commission for their refusal to favour companies of some law makers in the award of contract executed by the commission.
“It is on record that all the contracts awarded by the NEDC were subjected to public procurement act and other due processes, with a view to upholding the anti-graft crusade of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
“The NEDC is an open commission, in which case, anybody can go to the organisation to verify the facts rather than resorting to blackmail and character assassination.
“The NEDC operates TSA Account since its inception and all its funding pass through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
“This clearly shows that all contract process and expenditure of the commission are subjected to the Governing Board of the commission which has the mandate to give all necessary approval
” So we cannot imagine how somebody will unilaterally withdraw the sum of N5 billion to procure anything as alleged by the House of Representatives
“We are aware that in September 2019, during the North East Security Conference held in Maiduguri, Borno State Capital, a communiqué was issued and one of the recommendations and resolutions of the security conference was that, the commission should assist to buy vehicles for the security agencies.
“This is to make their Job easier and enhance their operational efficiency.
“Our investigation also reveals that a presentation was made and the board approved, thereafter channeled to the appropriate procurement processes and eventually, vehicles were procured and distributed to the security agencies.
“We, therefore, pass a vote of confidence on the management of the commission under the leadership of Alhaji Mohammad Goni Alkali who has been working tirelessly to ensure that the commission discharges its mandate effectively.”