Niger Delta

Social Action calls for immediate release of the NDDC forensic audit report to the public

By Peter Ene
Niger Delta Affairs Minister Godswill Akpabio (left) and NDDC Sole Administrator Effiong Akwa (right)

Social Action, a citizen’s group working in the area of transparency and anti corruption, has called on the Niger Delta Affairs Minister Godswill Akpabio to release the l forensic audit report of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to the public.

According to a statement signed by its Programmes Coordinator Botti Isaac, the group lamented that it is over a week that the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs confirmed that the long awaited forensic audit report of the NDDC has been submitted to his office by a team of auditors.

It would be recalled that following a public outcry over the monumental level of corruption exposed by the Senate Ad-Hoc committee on NDDC in October 2020 President Muhammadu Buhari inaugurated a forensic audit of the financial records of the Commission.

Social Action, however, noted with serious concern what it said appears to be a deliberate attempt to sweep the findings of the forensic audit under the carpet as the government has failed to make the said report available to the public even after a week of the Minister confirming the receipt of the report.

It would be recalled that in October 2020, Social Action said, the media was filled with several reports of unprecedented and monumental corruption manifesting in extensive contract frauds, Procurement law infractions, non-budgetary and extra-budgetary spending, audit violations, cronyism, fiscal recklessness and flagrant disregard to procedural rules as well as other financial malpractices levelled against the management of NDDC.

Sadly, the group added, the commission has failed to meet the needs and aspirations of the people of the Niger Delta. Rather than promoting the region’s development agenda in line with its mandate, the NDDC has become a cesspool of corruption for which many of its past and present leaders have not only been complicit, but have been indicted (in both past and present probes and investigations). These heavily weighted malfeasances are all in the open before citizens of Nigeria we, therefore, see no reasons why the outcome of the report should be locked in secrecy.

“With the forensic audit completed, it is the hope of Nigerians and the Niger Delta people that probity will be restored to the commission and that it will be re-positioned for efficiency.

“However, as an organization committed to ensuring accountability and transparency in governance, we are concerned about the bureaucratic procedure around the submission of the report which may further delay the report from being made public and its recommendations being implemented. We hereby call on the president to promptly implement the recommendations of the audit report and anyone found wanting be prosecuted with immediate effect.

“The Ministry of Niger Delta affairs should also be mandated to make the forensic audit report available to the public as soon as possible. This will help build trust in the government and restore citizens’ confidence in the governance process. Doing this will dispel any trepidation of any attempt to cover-up the sins of some considered to be in high places or any plans to present a watered-down version of the report.”

Social Action said it therefore calls on the President Muhammadu Buhari led administration to embrace transparency by ensuring that all aspects of the report is made available to the public with all sense of responsibility.

“It is important to reiterate that the NDDC is a public institution, as such; every document relating to it should be made public including the forensic audit report. Availing this document to the public is proof that this government has zero tolerance for corruption.

“We call on the government to interrogate the forensic report with the view to bringing about the needed sanity into the commission by implementing its recommendations to the full.”