An activist from the Niger Delta and President of the Citizens Quest for Truth Initiative, Obiaruko Christie Ndukwe explained the reasons why the Niger Delta region is filled with abandoned projects. She also talks about issues that affect the NDDC. JONATHAN NDA- ISAIAH presents the excerpts.
Unfinished NDDC projects punctuate the extent and breadth of the region, some of them fully paid, do you think the government and people in the region are doing enough to monitor the Commission?
I love that question. Let me tell you the simple truth. Award-winning jobs over the past 19 years have been used to win elections. The money paid to some of these professional contractors is used only for the elections and the Commission had the worst period during the period leading up to the 2015 elections.
Most of the abandoned jobs were paid, while some were not even originally in the budget. Without referring anyone or defending anyone, I can clearly say that there is a Sales Contract Department in the Commission, in which you buy the award cards and are assisted by the team there to get paid without doing work.
Why has the National Assembly, in the course of its oversight functions, been unable to detect this for 19 years?
There is a legal audit for the 19-year period by the Auditor General of the Federation; therefore, why have they not detected this over the years? Some of the contracts were abandoned due to frustration in obtaining payment. Some of those abandoned jobs were never in the budget; therefore, when new management arrives, they will refuse to pay. Don't forget, it's more about politics than development.
The frequent change in the Commission's administration without fulfilling its constitutional mandate also hampered development and led to the abandonment of projects. The President of the City Council of São José dos Pinhais (PR), João Doria (PSDB), announced on Wednesday (10) that he will meet with the President of the City Council of São José dos Pinhais (PR), João Doria (PSDB), to discuss the matter. in cases where some legislators responsible for overseeing the Commission's performance will receive contracts without any evidence of enforcement.
There is a current case of one of them who got more than 1000 jobs to provide plastic chairs for schools in the 9 states of the Niger Delta. He received the sum of N3.8bn without providing the chairs; the documents show that these chairs were supplied to a warehouse belonging to him in his state.
It is even funny that he received an N2bn contract from the governor of his state to supply plastic chairs and he took the same chairs for the NDDC and provided them. Can you beat this? And the same man is one of those who investigate the IMC and the Minister for a period of 6 months, simply because they asked him to return the money.
There is also another request for payment of more than N3billion, 60% of the contract amount being N6.4billion for the 136 skill acquisition program. The IMC declined this request as it considers it a fraud. This is perpetuated by the same people who wish to preside over the IMC investigation. This is ridiculous. So who do you blame? Many who shout "poll" do not have this information. If people know these truths, some of these NDDC people will be stoned in public places. Unfortunately, there is poverty and these inhibitors of development give crumbs to young people and some elders who run around in media houses, attacking just anyone they consider an enemy of their payers.
Do you think the forensic audit will sanitize the NDDC and change the way things are done going forward?
We need the forensic audit. I read and saw some people trying to discredit the Forensic Audit. His frustration is clearly understood. No more free food! The question is whether they understand what a Forensic Audit means. Is it a statutory audit? No. They are two different things. A Forensic Audit will allow us to x-ray the real problems related to fraud and which can be used for judgment, whereas in a Statutory Audit, it is not so.
The Governors of the States that make up the NDDC visited the President and requested a Forensic Audit. At first, it seemed political, a ploy to prevent Commission officials from having access to funds. Most of these governors are in the opposition's PDP. The President granted the request and ordered the Minister of Affairs of the Niger Delta to initiate the process. The minister dismissed the Board of Directors, led by Professor Brambaifa, just seven months after his appointment. He appointed an Interim Management Committee, which would manage the Commission during the period of the Forensic Audit. Yes, there were initial impediments to the start, but eventually the Forensic Audit started. But some people are committed to sinking it. The question is why? Who are these people?
Unknown to many, they mapped out different strategies to ensure that the Forensic Audit did not see the light of day.
First, there was a plan to access all the necessary documents and save them. The minister was smart enough to provide auditors with adequate security.
The battle then shifted to NASS as soon as some directors and defendants in the initial reports were moved out of the Commission's headquarters and their prosecutors arrested while stealing files.
The sudden decision to investigate the minister and the IMC is also suspect, as it will likely indict and nullify all actions that have been taken in relation to the Forensic Audit.
Some planned to use some paid youths to go to court challenging the legality of the Forensic Audit when there is a Statutory Audit report by the Federation's Auditor General.
I am skeptical if this Audit can continue, as more political weights are being recruited in the fight. Unless the president continues to maintain his position, the Forensic Audit can only end as an illusion.
Those who initially supported the Audit turned around when they realized that their party had been in charge of the Commission for 15 years, during the 19-year period in question. But, if the Audit is allowed, as I pray, the revelations will not only force many to reimburse huge amounts, but could also lead to eventual scrapping by the Commission.
The region was very divided with the decision to carry out the forensic audit. Who do you think the decision is generating so much controversy?
It is a matter of interest. Most of the people in the media kicking off the Forensic Audit have relied on sleaze in the Commission to survive. Let me tell you that these numbers are infinitesimal compared to the larger numbers in the region, which may not be vocal, but want a change in the Commission.
Those against the probe represent only the modern biblical woman whose son died overnight, but went ahead to claim the other woman's child. And when the matter was brought to King Solomon, the woman whose son had died supported the king's initial decision that the living son be divided in two. Of course, they are to blame even before the report. And the reason is simple, they are part of the problem. Some of the people who opposed the forensic audit insist that the Minister of Affairs of the Niger Delta, Godswill Akpabio, designed him to deceive the President and nothing more.
The last time I checked, Akpabio didn't start the idea of a forensic audit. It was the governors. The President just emphasized it and asked Akpabio as the supervising Minister to deal with this. So, how can anyone distort the truth by accusing Akpabio? Until we stop playing politics with development, we will remain in the dark while the rest of the world moves on.
Others claim that he is one of the beneficiaries of the sleaze that plagued the Commission and therefore lacks the moral strength to defend the audit.
If Akpabio was a beneficiary of the sleaze, we will find out. Do you think any reputable Forensic Auditor will exchange his hard-earned reputation for a cover-up by a Minister? The more reasons the Audit should be performed. Akpabio must be the person who will frustrate the Audit if the claim is true. Those who claim must present the evidence. It is not enough to throw tar on people without substantial evidence. The issues that I mentioned about those in power who hijacked jobs for themselves, were paid without doing them, I have the evidence. mediocre in the media business. People are paid to publish unsubstantiated stories. There will be no sacred cows if we all support the Auditors in carrying out their work.
You were quoted recently as saying that the ongoing investigation in the Senate of the Interim Management Committee was a conspiracy to end the forensic audit. Why do you think that?
Is obvious. Going for a $ 40 billion probe when it comes to an audit to determine where hundreds of billions have been spent is like settling for less. The president ordered a forensic audit by the Commission for a period of 19 years. He is supported by the Constitution to do so. Why does anyone insist that the IMC probe and the minister arrive first? It's simple Search them, indict them and ask them to be fired. It is clear that all measures taken, including the Proposal announced to the Forensic Auditors, will be declared illegal. It is clear that the Senate / House investigation is going in that direction. Some of the committees are involved in the process. How can they allow themselves to be probed? Leave the Forensic Audit completed, after which NASS can continue its supervisory functions. As the 6-month period of the IMC is not included in the Forensic Audit, this can be an obstacle. Not the other way around. It is obvious that some people want to challenge the Presidential Order.
The eviction of projects in communities without their contribution was also responsible for the NDDC's failure to meet the region's aspirations, what do you think should be done to resolve this? I've said it before. Until a Forensic Audit is done and the reasons for such impunity are deducted, it will not be verified. If people are punished and forced to repay the money raised for not executing projects, this will serve as a detective for many.
There is no perfect system in the world, but at least we can start from somewhere. If the military could build Abuja and make it the Federal Capital Territory, the Niger Delta region could also be transformed. But that is if we abstain from politics and appoint people with a passion to stand out. Again, funding must be regular.
Those who are in the habit of quitting jobs will also be forced to face the law.