By Henry Umoru – Abuja
The Senate committee investigating the Interim Management Committee, IMC, of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC was told that an Engineering Company was awarded a contract of consultancy by the IMC on the campaign of awareness on the prevention of the spread of coronavirus in the NDDC States.
The committee received the report from a Civil Society Organisation, Act for Positive Transformation Initiative, which stated such action was in contravention of the Public Procurement Law.
According to the report, the claim by the IMC of awarding the COVID-19 intervention contract after the approval of President Muhammadu Buhari was not true, adding, “the IMC had awarded the contracts prior to the Presidential approval which is in total disregard of laid down procedures as the contract sum is above the Board threshold.
“That the Presidential approval for the procurement of COVID-19 emergency contract was granted on 30th May 2020 whereas the contract was given by the IMC long before the approval.
“That most of the contract approvals were done in shady manners and that some of the benefitting companies got 15% and above mobilization instantly after the approval of their contracts in less than 24 hours.”
Also in its written submission, Centre for Social Justice told the Senate Committee that the NDDC had never published a Budget proposal in a hard or electronic copy to be made available to the public as well as its Budget implementation report either on a quarterly, half-yearly or yearly basis and made same available to Nigerians.
Likewise, the report of the Senate committee revealed that Professor Kemebradikumo Pondei and other members of the Committee now collect 20 per cent to 30 per cent of contract sums before Contractors are paid.
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The Senate ad-hoc committee led by Senator Olubunmi Adetunmbi, APC, Ekiti North is investigating the alleged Financial Recklessness to the tune of N40 billion in the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC by the IMC.
The Committee report also indicated that the claim by the IMC and the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio that the Headquarters of the Commission had been completed to 95 per cent is false.
The Senate Committee in the report said that these were revealed by the Chairman, Contractors Association of Niger Delta Development Commission, Mr. Joe Adia in a written submission to it.
The report read in part: ” that the claim of the Interim Management Committee( IMC) of the NDDC of paying with less than N50 Million is totally untrue as there are over 500 transformer installation and payments less than N4.5 million that have not been made for over eight years is untrue.
“That the new head of IMC- Prof. Pondei and other members of IMC are now collecting 20% – 30% of contract sums before Contractors are paid.”
According to Adia in his submission, the Immediate past Acting Managing Director of the Commission, Mrs Gbene Joi Nunieh had stopped all contractors from accessing the Commission till the completion of the Forensic Audit and this made it difficult for contractors to seek payment for projects they executed.
The report also stated that “the Contractors that are paid were those having access to the IMC and known to them and that the real contractors that did their job judiciously were not paid.
Recall that the Senate on 23rd July considered the Senator Adetunmbi led Ad-hoc Committee on Investigation of the alleged Financial Recklessness where it indicted itself as an institution for not carrying out an effective oversight function on the activities of the IMC of the NDDC that led to the rot and high level of corruption in the interventionist agency.
The Senate had also asked President Muhammadu Buhari to as a matter of urgency, sack the Professor Kemebradikumo Pondei-led Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) over alleged financial recklessness and constitute a new board for the NDDC.
Recall that the Senate had on Tuesday, 5th May, 2020 began a probe into alleged Financial Recklessness to the tune of N40 billion by the Interim Management Committee, IMC of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC.
Consequently, the President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan set up a Six- Member Ad-hoc Committee to carry out a holistic investigation on all issues relating to but not limited to the alleged misapplication and misappropriation of the sum of N4OBillion by the Commission.
The Committee, which was given four weeks to report back at Plenary, was to also carry out a holistic investigation into all procurements and financial transaction of the commission in this fiscal year (2020) and any other matter that is not in accordance with the provision of the NDDC Establishment Act, 2000 or any other extant law.
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The Ad-hoc Committee which had Senator Olubunmi Adetunmbi, All Progressives Congress, APC, Ekiti North as Chairman, had Senators Jika Dauda Haliru, APC Bauchi Central; Mohammed Tanko Almakura, APC Nasarawa South; Abdulfatai Buhari; APC Oyo North; Chukwuka Utazi, PDP, Enugu North, Ibrahim Hadeija, APC Jigawa North East and Degi – Eremienyo Biobarakuma Wangaha, APC Bayelsa East.
Resolutions of the Senate were sequel to a motion titled, “Urgent Need to Investigate Alleged Financial Recklessness in the Niger Delta Development Commission ( NDDC)” and sponsored by Senator Thompson George Sekibo, PDP Rivers East.
Presenting the motion, Senator Sekibo had alleged that reports from the Commission have indicated State of financial Recklessness that must be investigated and stopped.
He had said that while President Muhamnadu Buhari set up the IMC to coordinate forensic auditing of financial transactions carried out by the now-dissolved Board of the commission, reports emanating from IMC, indicate financial Recklessness on its part too, adding that aside financial recklessness being carried out by the IMC, is also indulging in an alleged arbitrary sack of the management staff of the Commission.