President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday said law enforcement agencies had recovered over N3.7 billion from some contractors and former directors of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
Speaking during the inauguration of the agency’s Advisory Committee, comprising the nine governors of the region and the Ministers of Niger Delta Affairs and Environment, Buhari stated: ‘’To date, the EFCC (Economic and Financial Crimes Commission) and other agencies of government have recovered over N3.7 billion in cash as well as various assets worth billions of naira from some contractors and former directors of the commission.”
‘’Furthermore, I am told that government agencies have placed liens on over N6 billion assets which are being investigated,’’ he added.
The president reminded the committee that the abuses of the past call for strict and diligent oversight.
He, therefore, charged the panel to discharge its assignment diligently and effectively, working closely with relevant ministries and visibly turning the fortunes of the interventionist agency and the entire oil-rich area around.
Buhari recalled that in 2016, his administration launched the ‘New Vision for the Niger Delta (NEVIND)’ to bring sustainable peace, security, infrastructure, and human capital development to the region, adding that the media to achieve the noble idea were the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs; the NDDC and the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP).
He, however, regretted that the affected institutions had in the past failed to deliver due to mismanagement.
The Nigerian leader went on: “As a result, the people of the Niger Delta were left with abandoned infrastructure projects and substandard social programmes designed to improve their living conditions.
“It is to reverse this trend that I approved, in February 2020, the constitution of a 10-man Presidential Monitoring Committee (PMC) as provided for in Section 21 of the NDDC Establishment Act (2000).”
He noted that the PMC, to be chaired by the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs with members drawn from various MDAs, would focus on monitoring the operations and activities of the commission and report to him.
Buhari reiterated that the composition of the advisory committee was consistent with the provisions of Section 11 (I) of the commission’s enabling law to advise the board and monitor its activities.
Justifying the move, the nation’s first citizen noted: “This is to enable us to develop insights into the affairs of the commission which will properly guide the board when reconstituted once the forensic audit is concluded.”
‘’You may recall that the Federal Executive Council, on February 5, 2020, approved the appointment of the Lead Forensic Auditors. I am told they are concluding their pre-engagement activities and should be ready to commence work soon,” he stated.
Responding on behalf of the committee members, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State thanked the president for inaugurating the team and granting the request of the state chief executives from the region for a forensic audit of the NDDC.
He expressed the hope that the conclusion of the exercise would reposition the commission to deliver the goods to the people.