Niger Delta Renaissance Coalition, Wednesday gave reasons the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Chief Godswill Akpabio and members of the Interim Management Committee, IMC, should not be allowed to supervise forensic audit.
The group through its National Coordinator, Comrade Godknows Sotonye, said: “As Nigerians eagerly await the decisive action of President Buhari on the Senate recommendations on the alleged financial mismanagement, abuse of office and breach of Public Procurement Act by the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of NDDC, we restate our stand rejecting the supervision of the Commission’s forensic audit by the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Chief Godswill Akpabio, and IMC.
“The Minister of Niger Delta has long been a key player in NDDC affairs. From 2001 to 2015 which will be covered by the Forensic Audit, the PDP was in power and so the Managements and Boards of the NDDC in those years were appointed by the sitting Presidents based on the recommendations of the PDP Governors of the various Niger Delta States.
“In eight of those years, 2007 to 2015, Chief Godswill Akpabio was the PDP Governor of Akwa Ibom State and he personally recommended / nominated the several persons from Akwa Ibom State into the Boards and Management of the NDDC in those 8 years including Architect Esoetek Etteh from Akwa Ibom State who Akpabio nominated and who served as Executive Director of Projects from 2009 to 2011; Engr. Edikan Eshiet, also from Akwa Ibom State, who was also nominated by Akpabio was EDP of NDDC from 2011 to 2013; and Barrister Dan Abia, also from Akwa Ibom State, who Akpabio also nominated and who served as Managing Director from December 2013 to Dec 2015. These are beside several others who served as Akwa Ibom State Representatives on the NDDC board. Let us not forget also that the last substantive Managing Director of the NDDC between 2016 and 2019, Nsima Ekere served as Deputy Governor to Akpabio between 2007 and 2011.
“Chief Akpabio worked closely with these appointees.
“Furthermore, Chief Akpabio recently appointed a new Acting Executive Director of Finance and Administration – Effiong Felix Akwa from Akwa Ibom as a member of the Current IMC of the NDDC. This new appointee, Effiong Felix Akwa had previously worked as the Special Assistant, Finance to Barrister Dan Abia, when he was Managing Director of NDDC from 2013 to 2015, a position he was nominated to by Senator Akpabio.
“It was therefore not surprising to well-meaning Nigerians when the Senate, at plenary on July 23 adopted the report of its ad-hoc committee on the probe of NDDC, which recommended, amongst others, that oversight of the forensic audit should be transferred to the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation to “guarantee independence, credibility, transparency and professionalism in the output of the exercise.” The Senate also adopted the recommendation that “the President with advice from the “Auditor General should appoint a renowned, internationally-recognised, forensic auditor to carry out the exercise.”
“The people of Niger Delta are united in their unwavering demand that the forensic audit has to be done by a reputable independent auditor just as the NNPC audit was done by Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC) a few years back.
“These are the issues that need serious intervention by the President because it would be a complete disservice and a blow to the Anti-Corruption battle to have a shambolic forensic audit report. The Niger Delta people deserve better.
“We therefore align with the Senate recommendation of July 23 that the IMC be disbanded; that the substantive Governing Board of the NDDC be sworn in to manage the Commission in line with the provisions of the Law; and the institution of a credible forensic audit; among others. We urge Mr President to implement the Senate Resolutions that “the President with advice from the Auditor General should appoint a renowned, internationally recognised forensic auditor to carry out the forensic audit exercise,” and that the oversight of the forensic audit should be transferred to the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation to “guarantee independence, credibility, transparency and professionalism in the output of the exercise.”
Recall that the Federal Executive Council (FEC) on Wednesday approved the appointment of eight field experts to undertake the forensic audit of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Sen. Godswin Akpabio, made the disclosure to State House correspondents after the council’s meeting, presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House, Abuja.
According to the minister, the field auditors will complement the work of the lead auditors, appointed in March.
He said over N300 million was approved for the initial lead auditors, and over N700 million for the eight newly appointed auditors as payments for their services.
The minister explained that the auditors would evaluate all the 12,000 abandoned projects in the Niger Delta region in the last 19 years.
Akpabio said: “The Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs today presented a memo to the Federal Executive Council and at the end of the deliberations, the memo was approved.
“The memo is basically the appointment of field forensic auditors to undertake the forensic auditing of the Niger Delta Development Commission.
“The field forensic auditors are going to be designated to go through the states of the Niger Delta region.
“Earlier we had the lead forensic auditor that was approved sometime in March; now we have about eight other forensic auditors who have been approved and they are going to be working in the field in the region.”
He said that one of them, Ernst and Young, was an international group that would be in charge of programmes and activities at the headquarters.
“This has really kick-started the commencement of evaluation of the abandoned projects of NDDC in the last 19 years estimated at almost 12,000 projects.
“At the end we will be in the position to know the ones that could be completed, the ones that will be useful and the low hanging fruits that could be plucked for the benefit of the people of the region,’’ he said.
Akpabio said the result of the evaluation would determine the next line of action on the projects.