Niger Delta

Why Buhari must act on NDDC forensic report Anti-corruption network explains at Town Hall meeting

The Anti-corruption Network (ACoNET) has explained at a Town Hall Meeting why President Muhammad Buhari must, without further delay, release and act on the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) Forensic Audit Report.

The details were contained in a communiqué issued at the end of a Town Hall Meeting organized by the Social Development Integrated Centre (Social Action) on Wednesday, October 13, 2021, in Port Harcourt.

The Town Hall, which had participants drawn from stakeholder groups in the region; communities, Civil Society Organizations and the media, issued the following communiqué.

Communiqué Issued at the End of a Town Hall Meeting Organized by Social Action with the Theme: “Promoting Probity in the NDDC to Rebuild Accountability Tenet and Public Trust”

Introduction

The Social Development Integrated Centre (Social Action), a Citizens’ Organization working around issues of Transparency and Accountability in Nigeria, organized a Town Hall Meeting in Port Harcourt on October 13, 2021, with the theme “Promoting Probity in the NDDC to Rebuild Accountability Tenet and Public Trust,” to mobilize critical community and stakeholder voices to call on the Federal Government to do the needful on the findings of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) Forensic Audit Report.

The NDDC, a Federal Government body envisioned and established as an intervention development agency responsible for facilitating sustainable development of the Niger Delta region through the development and implementation of policies which fosters peace, stability, economic and environmental growth to bridge the development gap in the Niger Delta, has left the region significantly underdeveloped with resultant massive infrastructural gaps, despite N6 trillion plus sunk into developing projects.

Observations

Participants at the Town Hall Meeting observed the following:

  1. That the major reasons for the lacklustre performance by the commission corruption, misuse of public office and lack of citizens’ engagement.
  2. That the bureaucratic bottlenecks in gaining access to budgets, procurement, data on payment to government by international oil companies (IOCs), and open contracting documents by citizens and civil society actors reveal severely limited transparency around the operations of the commission.
  3. That the NDDC has, since its inception, been enmeshed in high profile corruption cases with allegations ranging from contract frauds, to Procurements law violations, audit violations, cronyism, non-budgetary and extra-budgetary spending being the identity of the Commission.
  4. That the allegations of fiscal recklessness and extensive disregard to procedural rules were prominent among the numerous scandals in which the commission has enmeshed itself.
  5. That the revelation from the forensic audit shows the extent of corruption in the NDDC system.
  6. That the outcome of the full blown forensic audit of the NDDC directed by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019 (even though not much details is out) reveals some disturbing facts such as the 13,000 abandoned projects on which over N3 trillion was wasted.
  7. That prior to the release of the forensic audit report, the Senate Ad hoc committee had in its report in April 2020 fingered the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of NDDC in massive corruption involving the mismanagement of some N40 billion without recourse to established processes of funds disbursement and the fraudulent award of N1 trillion involving some 1,921 ‘emergency
    contracts’ by the management of NDDC.
  8. That the recent revelation from the forensic audit confirms some of the anomalies and reinforces the need to restore sanity and probity into the NDDC system.
  9. That the failure of NDDC fuels discords and unrests that lead to social dislocation in the Niger Delta.
  10. That citizens’ organizations in the Niger Delta had expressed concern that despite this horrific revelation by the forensic report, the Federal Government might not take the needed action to purge the NDDC of corruption and restore it to the path of efficiency, having not responded to an earlier petition they had sent to the Presidency on September 16, 2021, on behalf of the Rivers State Anti-corruption Network.
  11. That consequently, the Town Hall Meeting, which was conceived and convened by Social Action under the frame of its ongoing project “Strengthening Civic And Community Actions Against Corruption In The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC)” with support from the MacArthur Foundation, has become strategically imperative to coalesce citizens’ voices to stimulate decisive actions on the NDDC forensic report; mobilise citizens’ groups and community structures to pressure the government to release the forensic report to the public; call for an immediate investigation into the 13,000 abandoned projects and the prosecution of all those involved in it; educate the citizens on the need to be involved in the development around the forensic audit findings.

Resolutions

The Town Hall Meeting, which brought together stakeholders, community members, the media and the CSOs to brainstorm on the way forward, resolved as follows:

  1. That the call on President Muhammadu Buhari to authorize the immediate release of the forensic audit report to the public, show that the government is transparent and for citizens to follow the development around the forensic audit, be intensified.
  2. That the Presidency immediately publish details (Name of project, location, amount released etc.) of the abandoned thirteen (13) thousand projects in the region as mentioned by the Minister of Niger Delta Ministry and as stated in the audit report.
  3. That the list and names of all the contractors involved in the contract scam, failed and abandoned contracts should be published with all such companies involved unveiled with full list of directors, shareholders and management.
  4. That government should commence the immediate investigation, arrest and prosecution of all contractors and companies involved and indicted in the forensic audit report of the NDDC.
  5. That the government should begin taking immediate steps to implement fully the recommendations of the forensic audit reports.
  6. That the government should initiate the immediate prosecution of all persons involved in the waste, mismanagement and looting of the over N6 trillion (N6,000,000,000,000) naira mentioned in the report.
  7. That the government should proceed without delay to arrest and prosecute all management and staff of the Niger Delta Development Commission involved in contract scam and racketeering.
  8. That participants condemn corruption in all its forms and urge the government to expedite action in line with the above demands if the anti-corruption stance of the present government would not be taken as a song of all times, as this line of action will serve as a deterrent to others and help position public offices for efficiency and effectiveness. Especially, it will sanitize and position the NDDC for effective service delivery to better the lot of the people of the Niger Delta.
  9. That the NDDC be made to abide by the rules of the Public Procurement Act with an open and transparent budgeting process.
  10. That the government should immediately remove all bureaucratic bottlenecks that citizens and civil society actors encounter when trying to gain access to budgets, procurement, data on payment to government by international oil companies (IOCs) and contracting documents.
  11. That NDDC project planning and budgeting processes should be community driven, with inputs from traditional and community leaders, going forward.
  12. That the Niger Delta communities and CSOs are to begin collaborating on their engagements with the NDDC.

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