… Raises the Alarm Over N570 million spent on Training
…N171 million paid in February to train over 300 Drivers, N150 Million paid April 3, 2020 to Union Members to attend a training in Italy
By Henry Umoru
ABUJA – THE Senate has raised the alarm over the N1.121 Billion spent by Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC on Public Communication.
According to the Senate, the expenditure record for public communication was put at N2.1 Billion in the reports of the Accountant General of the Federation and the Central Bank of Nigeria, showing an under-declaration in the NDDC figure.
The Upper Chamber taking a swipe at the management of the Interim Management Committee, IMC of the NDDC on the sharp variation in the figures expended on Public Communication, said that the Management of IMC under IMC-1 spent N17 million on Media outreach while the Expanded Interim Management Committee, EIMC of the NDDC spent a more significant amount of N1.1 Billion.
The disclosure is contained in the report of the Senator Olubunmi Adetunmbi, APC, Ekiti North led Ad-hoc Committee that Investigated the alleged Financial Recklessness to the tune of N40 billion in the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC by the IMC.
According to the document obtained by Vanguard, the report stated that ” the analysis of this expenditure heading found that almost 55% of the NDDC disbursement on Public Communication was to a company called, ‘ Clear Point Communication’, the next 27% to Patrick Oke and Associates being a quarterly instalment of Contract due.
” The Senate Ad-hoc Committee requested clarification from the NDDC management on the specific nature of work being done by these two organisations and the major differences in the consultancy works. The response from the Executive Director, Project (EDP) did not particularly address the question, rather he explained that the contract existed before they took over from the IMC-1, he also explained that these payments were historical debt owed to the companies who are on the verge of taking legal action against the NDDC. The Senate Committee’s view is that this expenditure is extra-budgetary and therefore must be refunded.
” The huge contracts seen on Public Communication cannot be justified as value for money. The allegations made by some activists also suggests a likely case of over-bloated invoicing. These contracts are highly recommended to be reviewed further for intent and performance. In addition, the contracts must be subjected to comparative industry standards to justify the pricing.”
The Senate has raised the alarm following the N570 million the NDDC spent on Training where the sum of N143 million was paid individual members of staff on April 1, 2020, to attend a Budget participatory conference.
The report stated thus, ” Incidentally this period happened to be during the COVID- 19 Lockdown, it is obvious that the conference was not attended as the country wash on absolute Lockdown. This sum must, therefore, be refunded by Staff concerned. This payment was made to 5 Staff averaging almost N28 million per person.
“N171 million to train over 300 drivers, individual staff were paid in cash for this training on February 3, 2020, to attend the driver training course. Making cahs payments to individual staff seems to be a standard practice at NDDC. This custom is not only unethical, it lacks transparency and accountability. NDDC must do away with this practice as a way of improving its duty on stewardship.
” N150 million to sponsor Union Executive Members to attend a training in Turin, Italy. These sums were paid to union members on April 3, 2020, to attend an international labour organization conference in Turin, Italy, incidentally, this period also happens to be during COVID-19 lockdown, it is obvious that this the beneficiaries of these payments could not travel out of the country as a result of the Covid- 19 travel restriction, hence this sum must be refunded by the Union members concerned.”
Recall that the Senate had on Tuesday, 5th May 2020 begun a probe into alleged Financial Recklessness to the tune of N40 billion by the Interim Management Committee, IMC of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC.
Consequently, the President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan set up a Six- Member Ad-hoc Committee to carry out an holistic investigation on all issues relating to but not limited to the alleged misapplication and misappropriation of the sum of N4OBillion by the commission.
The Committee, which was given four weeks to report back at Plenary, was to also carry out a holistic investigation into all procurements and financial transaction of the commission in this fiscal year (2020) and any other matter that is not in accordance with the provision of the NDDC Establishment Act, 2000 or any other extant law.
The Ad-hoc Committee which has Senator Olubunmi Adetunmbi, All Progressives Congress, APC, Ekiti North as Chairman, has Senators Jika Dauda Haliru, APC Bauchi Central; Mohammed Tanko Almakura, APC Nasarawa South; Abdulfatai Buhari; APC Oyo North; Chukwuka Utazi, PDP, Enugu North, Ibrahim Hadeija, APC Jigawa North East and Degi – Eremienyo Biobarakuma Wangaha, APC Bayelsa East.
Resolutions of the Senate were sequel to a motion titled, “Urgent Need to Investigate Alleged Financial Recklessness in the Niger Delta Development Commission ( NDDC)” and sponsored by Senator Thompson George Sekibo, PDP Rivers East.