Recent revelations involving weighty allegations of hire-wire advance monumental grand corruption at the Niger Delta development commission (NDDC) have again raised concerns about the need for the commission to reform or close.
The latest fallout from the NDDC are allegations of sexual and work place harassment sparking fears of a possible sex ring within the commission. These allegations coming from a former Ag. MD of the commission against the supervising minister amid massive corruption, are clear testimony of the long-held fact that the NDDC is completely distracted from its mandate of developing the Niger Delta and now neck-deep into sundry matters.
Indeed, the NDDC is gradually metamorphosing into a liability not only for the Niger Delta but our dear country Nigeria as a whole. The once-respected commission will possibly take the gold medal as the No 1 corrupt agency in Nigeria and one that is at the fore-front in frustrating President Buhari’s anti-corruption fight.
The NDDC is a source of inspiration to all wannabe – corrupt MDAs in Nigeria. There is the urgent need to close the NDDC and use the funds to create jobs for the teeming unemployed youths in the Niger Delta through a skills acquisition programme using MDAs such as the national directorate of employment (NDE).
It beggars belief as to how a commission involved in such grand corruption and sex scandals is still standing. The NNDC has to go so that the good people of the Niger Delta can breath some fresh air and be saved from the mind-boggling embarrassment. Poverty is still pervasive in the Niger Delta despite the huge funds channeled to the region because the ELITES in the region have cornered the funds meant for development of the region while the masses get nothing.
Indeed, the NDDC is better named NDEDC – Niger Delta ELITES development commission
Over the years, the NDDC has turned into a glorified automated teller machine (ATM) for the ELITES in the Niger-Delta. The good people of the Niger Delta are not benefitting from the humongous funds sunk into the NDDC. Only the elites are smiling home with their pockets full of NDDC money. Many cases abound to prove the incomprehensible, mind-boggling and scary levels of corruption in the NDDC.
Even at this time when President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered a forensic audit of the NDDC, the management staff remain undaunted in their party at the NDDC. They continue to withdraw from the NDDC ATM at will. As a matter of fact, NDDC will certainly be a nominee for the gold medal as the most corrupt government agency in Nigeria today.
Non-submission of financial reports is a pastime in the NDDC. Few days ago, the House of Representatives committee on Niger-Delta exposed a humongous fraud of N81.5 billion in just 5 months.
YES, the NDDC spent N81.5 billion in 5 months (January – May 2020).
If you are surprised, please wait for the breakdown:
Condolences- N122.9 million,
Community relations: 1.3 billion
Consultancy: N83 million,
COVID-19 take home pay-N3.14 billion
Duty Travel Allowance -N486 million Impress- N790.9 million
Lasser fever- N1.956 billion.
Legal Services- N900 million, Maintenance- N220 million,
Overseas travel- N85.6 million,
Public Communication- N1.121 billion, Security- N744 million,
Staffing related payment- N8.8 billion, Stakeholders engagement (Feb 18- May 31, 2020)- N248 million.
It is noteworthy that in all of the above, there is not a single road or any tangible project constructed for the good people of the Niger Delta.
Among the purported duty travel allowances of N486 million is the claim of the NDDC management that they travelled to the U.K to attend graduation ceremonies for their children between February and May during the COVID-19 lockdown. Apart from the fact that the NDDC is not mandated to sponsor anyone to their children’s graduation ceremony, this claim cannot stand because there were no flights to the UK from Nigeria during the period the NDDC staff claimed to have travelled by air. It is simply funny that anyone in Nigeria could claim to have travelled outside NIGERIA between February and May 2020 when there were no flights -could the NDDC staff have travelled by road from Abuja to London?
The MD of the NDDC interim management committee (IMC) Professor Kemebradikumo Pondei admitted that the NDDC shared N1.5 billion among the management and staff as take home pay due to what he called ‘palliatives to cushion the effect of COVID-19 pandemic. The MD admitted to collecting N10 million as his share of the NDDC COVID-19 largesse.
It should be noted that this grand corruption case at the time when President Buhari directed the ongoing forensic audit of the NDDC.
The NDDC management spent N81.5 billion during the forensic audit. Heaven knows how much they would have taken if President Buhari has not ordered a forensic audit of the commission.
The NDDC is such a den of corruption that fetish oaths are taken before any corrupt practice is perpetrated as disclosed by the former Ag MD of the commission the brave Ms Joy Nunieh. Ms Nunieh disclosed that the supervising minister of the commission, the minister of Niger Delta affairs asked her to swear to an oath to commit fraud. The NDCC fetish oath of corruption is meant to ‘shut the mouth’ of any perpetrator from spilling the beans and exposing the act. The former Ag MD refused to swear to the oath and she got booted out. She also disclosed alleged grand humongous corruption against the Honourable minister of Niger Delta affairs including his alleged role in fraud and mismanagement of N40 billion belonging to the commission between October 2019 – February 2020.
Records show that the NDDC spent a whopping sum of N121.5 billion in 7 months if the N40 billion mismanaged between Oct 2019-Feb 2020 is added to the N81.5 billion COVID-19 fraud perpetrated between Feb 2020-May 2020. This amount (N121.5 billion) spent by the NDDC is 11% more than the N108 billion budget of Yobe state for the entire fiscal year 2020.
The N121.5 billion ‘spent’ by the NDDC in just 7 months is also more than the 2020 budgets of the following states:
Ekiti-N91.128 billion – (25% less than NDDC)
Kogi-N102 billion (17% less than NDDC)
Osun-N119.5 billion (2% less than NDDC)
Niger state-N98 billion (20% less than NDDC)
It is imperative to note that the bulk of the N121.5 billion ‘spent’ by the NDDC in just 7 months went to the elite of the Niger Delta. The poor man on the streets of the Niger Delta working hard to feed his family may have ended with nothing. Little wonder that restive youths in the Niger Delta have resorted to illegal sabotage of pipelines as a job creation programme for survival.
The brave Joy Nunieh, former Ag MD of the NDDC IMC also made startling revelations about illegal and deliberate busting of pipelines and other oil structures when she accused the minister of Niger Delta affairs of sponsoring youths to bust pipelines to tarnish her image and prepare her for removal. This is a very weighty allegation which should be looked into because economic sabotage is a punishable offence under Nigeria’s laws. This allegation also calls for new laws to check pipeline vandalism and deliberate economic sabotage which seems to allegedly involve top government officials.
There is also a link between the national assembly particularly the senate and the ongoing alleged corruption in the NDDC. The scenario of corruption works this way:
1. The NDDC presents its annual budget estimates to the National Assembly which are often times over-bloated
2. Members of the senate committee on Niger Delta will include their share in the budget through contracts they will ‘corner’ through proxy companies.
3. Members of the senate committee on the Niger Delta will lobby and ensure that the NDDC budget is approved.
4. Upon passage of the budget by the National Assembly, the NDDC will award the ‘cornered’ contracts to members of the senate committee on the Niger Delta with the chairman taking the lion’s share.
5. The NDDC will pay the members of the senate committee on the Niger Delta upfront before execution if the contracts will ever be executed.
6. The senators who ‘cornered and enjoyed’ the purported contracts will cover up any investigations into NDDC accounts and/or how the contracts are executed.
It can be recalled that the chairman of the senate committee on the Niger Delta was alleged to have cornered hundreds of contracts worth N3.6 billion using 11 proxy companies between 2017-2019 for which he was paid ‘upfront’. Whether or not he has executed these contracts will be unravelled in the ongoing forensic investigation of NDDC accounts.
Another senator who was a former senate minority leader was also alleged to have cornered several contracts from the NDDC including a N300 million contract for fencing of the federal polytechnic Ukana Akwa Ibom state. If the NDDC should be involved in fencing of a federal polytechnic, what then is the work of the federal ministry of education, federal ministry of works and the tertiary education trust fund (TETFUND)?
NDDC, 13% DERIVATION, AMNESTY, MINISTRY OF NIGER DELTA AFFAIRS ALL IN ONE:
Why grand corruption lingers in the Niger Delta MDAs is because there is too much money sent to these MDAs.
When you have too much money without a good monitoring mechanism, there is bound to be grand corruption.
Why is it that despise the huge cash allocations to the Niger Delta MDAs, all that comes out of the region is corruption, poverty, despair and unemployment? Imagine if the N121.5 billion ‘spent’ by the NDDC in just 5 months on frivolous phantom excuses is channeled towards job creation for the youths in the region.
Why are there no jobs for the youths of the Niger Delta despite huge public funds channelled to the Niger Delta?
The breakdown of the annual budgets for the Niger Delta MDAs is as follows:
NDDC- N346.3 billion (2019). This figure is about the annual budgets of three states viz Ekiti (N129.9 billion), Zamfara (N135.3 billion) and Yobe (N91.6 billion)
Ministry for Niger Delta affairs (2019)- N31.97 billion
Amnesty programme (2019): N65 billion
13% derivation (Jan 2017- April 2018) – N602 billion
According to the Vanguard newspaper edition of August 22 2017, states in the Niger Delta received N7 TRILLION from the 13% derivation fund in 18 years from inception of the fund in 1999 to 2016. Where has all this money gone to?
States in the Niger Delta are allocated huge cash in the name of derivation and to date, no state in the Niger Delta has accounted for the huge 13% derivation allocated to them monthly. In the figures released by the revenue mobilisation, allocation and fiscal commission (RMAC) on the money shared amongst federal, states and local governments in December 2019, the states in the Niger Delta received a whopping N57.83 billion which was about three times the N20.02 billion received by states in the South-West.
Why is there such high level of poverty in the Niger Delta in the face of all these funds?
The difference in money’s sent to states is very clear. Niger Delta states get much more than all other states in the country and yet all we hear is corruption.
To be honest, there are too many agencies and too much money sent to Niger Delta most of which ends up in the pockets of the ELITES.
Why should there be duplication of efforts and resources in NDDC and a ministry for Niger Delta affairs at the same time? Nigeria is currently the only country in the world to devote substantial cash to a region where oil is produced by geographical coincidence only for the elites of the region to enjoy leaving the poor masses of the region high and dry.
The amnesty programme for the so-called militants is also embroiled in massive corruption. As a matter of fact, the former coordinator of the programme Kingsley Kuku has escaped to the U.S amid allegations of grand corruption and is currently in exile.
CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
The huge federal government allocation to the Niger Delta cannot be justified under the current level of corruption in the Niger Delta MDAs. The projects in the Niger Delta covered by these MDAs especially the NDDC, 13% derivation and amnesty programme should actually be covered under corporate social responsibility (CSR) of the oil companies operating in the Niger Delta. To be fair to these companies particularly the international oil companies (IOCs), they are not having it easy with the ELITES of the region as some elites prefer to collect cash instead of allowing projects to be implemented for the poor masses in the region. There is this narrative of a traditional ruler in one of the states in the Niger Delta who once asked the IOCs to give him the cash instead of constructing a bridge for the poor masses in his community. He was quoted as saying to the IOCs ‘You don’t need to construct any bridge, just give me the cash because I know what my people want.
The federal government should as a matter of urgency, review and scrap those Niger Delta MDAs that have become conduit pipes for the elites in the region and use the funds to create jobs for the teeming unemployed youths in the region.
The youths in the Niger Delta need jobs
The good people of the Niger Delta deserve better.
The NDDC, ministry of Niger Delta affairs, the amnesty programme and 13% derivation have all proven to be liabilities to the current anti-corruption fight of the Buhari administration.
These MDAs stink and should all be scrapped.
The earlier these MDAs are scrapped the better for our dear country, the youths and the rest of the poor communities in the Niger Delta.
Opinion AddThis : Original Author : Abubakar Alkali Disable advertisements :Original Article