The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, has stated that it is important that the ongoing Forensic Audit is concluded and handed over to President Muhammadu Buhari as the recommendations and outcome of the exercise would be implemented by the new board that would be inaugurated soon to reposition the NDDC for effective service delivery in the region.
A statement by Deworitshe Patricia said the Minister said this during a live Radio Nigeria Audience participatory programme organized as part of the activities marking the second term of the Buhari Administration on Tuesday at the Radio House in Abuja.
Akpabio stated that “people are commending Mr. President for the efforts, the delay notwithstanding, when the exercise is completed, NDDC cannot be the same again. We have solid Forensic Auditors, one of them in the Head office is international, Ernest & Young, we have also mandated them to come up with an organogram that could make the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) a bankable institution, for example, they could go to any international institution and get money and be able to do major projects to change the lives of the people of the region”.
The Minister recalled that the Forensic Auditors were inaugurated to scrutinize the activities of the NDDC that was mired in allegations of mind-boggling corruption in order to change the narrative of the region. “This is in line with the presidential directive for a holistic examination and review of the operations of the NDDC from inception in 2009 to 2019 to ascertain the exact status of all contracts for projects and services as classified into completed, uncompleted, abandoned, ongoing and facilities that can be managed to be salvaged and whether appropriations made to the Commission is commiserate with developments on ground’ he stated.
He noted that due to lack of budgetary provision, Mr. President, in July 2020, opted that the Forensic Audit should be funded through the budget of the Presidency and presently the exercise is on course and it is expected that the Forensic Audit would be concluded and submitted to the President by July 2021.
In pursuance of the mandate and commitment of the Federal Government to the development of the Niger Delta Region, the supervision of the Commission was assigned to the Ministry for administrative efficiency which brought about the commissioning of the completed NDDC Headquarters after being abandoned for over 19 years.” For the first time a Minister visited the NDDC Headquarters that was started in 1996 by OMPADEC and abandoned over the years, today it is completed and commissioned”, the Minister said.
In the area of peace presently enjoyed in the region, Akpabio stated that the Federal Government has constantly and consistently engaged stakeholders to ensure relative peace in the region. “Buhari’s administration has done a lot not just for Niger Delta alone but for the whole country, in the perspective of the Niger Delta Region to keep the Ministry afloat within these years, we’ve had major engagements with stakeholders in the region, we meet with traditional rulers, youths and others to ensure that peace is sustained in the region”.
According to the Minister, Buhari’s government has undertaken major projects abandoned by the previous administration which include the East-West Road that starts from the central part of Warri and transverses at least five states of the Niger Delta region in order to alleviate the sufferings of the people and enhance economic activities within and outside the region.
He stressed that “Mr. President in his wisdom redirected that the project be handed over to my Ministry to continue and as l speak, work is going on at a consistent pace and l believe strongly that the projection of 1st and 2nd quarter of next year for the commissioning of the first phase of Section 1-4 that is from Warri to Oron should be ready to be used by the people of Niger Delta Region would be achieved”.
Continuing, he said, “l know we also have challenges at the Eleme junction where one of the bridges not originally contemplated collapsed but we are trying to see what we can do to intervene in that area”.
He reiterated the commitment of the Federal Government to addressing the infrastructure deficiency, social-economic challenges, poverty, environmental degradation and pollution that characterized the region for years to assuage the living condition of the people of Niger Delta region.