Finally, the report of the forensic audit of the NDDC between 2001 and 2019 has been submitted to the federal government and it revealed that over 13,777 projects being handled by the commission have their execution substantially compromised. The report also revealed that the commission has about 362 bank accounts that lack proper reconciliation.
Interestingly, the federal government approved N3.375 trillion as budgetary allocation and N2.420 trillion as Income from Statutory and Non Statutory Sources, which brings the total figure to the sum of approximately N6 trillion given to the Commission within the period.
However, these revelations are not in any way surprising as several unpleasant corruption allegations have filtered out of the commission over the years. Rather, the surprise awaiting Nigerians is that irrespective of the revelations and humongous figures of finds that have already been siphoned, nobody will be held responsible for it. At best, names of some political scapegoats will be mentioned, a semblance of investigation conducted and when these victims succumb to the political pressure, the dust will settle and business continues.
This calls to question the integrity and sincerity of those in power, those who the life and future of Nigeria’s fortune is entrusted in their capacity are playing games with it.
Unfortunately, the House of Representatives which comprises of some brilliant, youthful, and energetic set of Nigerians have for long caught the corruption fever, and the 9th assembly, despite repeated promises is not ready to make the needed change from the generational wrong.
While reflecting on how the 9th assembly has raised the hope of Nigerians on the probe of corrupt practices in the different public institutions and dashed the hope by not concluding the probe or sweeping the probe report under the carpet, the recent NDDC prove came to mind.
For the records, among many others, the House had set up a committee to investigate the quality and quantity of arms and ammunition purchased for security agencies in the country in the last 10 years. Also, the House Committee on Treaties and Protocols launched an investigation into the $500 million loans from the Chinese government.
The House began a probe into the Turn Around Maintenance of the refineries in Port Harcourt, Warri, and Kaduna, costing a total of $396.33m within four years as well as an investigation into the failure to refund $7bn withdrawn from the foreign reserves by the Central Bank of Nigeria in 2006, which was paid to banks and assets managers and many others.
While the litany of probes embarked upon by the House may be too numerous to mention, the most dramatic and perhaps most scandalous was the probe of the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the NDDC led by Prof. Kemebradikumo Daniel Pondei. This can’t but be remembered when the government announced outcome of the forensic audit of the commission.
The IMC allegedly misappropriated over N91 billion within the seven months of its tenure. The probe which was broadcasted live on national television stations turned so dramatic that the Rivers State Police Command attempted to arrest former chairman of the IMC, Joy Nunieh, who was billed to testify against the minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio. The drama reached its crescendo with the sudden slumping of Prof. Pondei while responding to questions from members of the House Committee on NDDC. Technically, Pondie’s dramatic collapse ended the probe, Pondei never returned to conclude his interrogation session, and the report submitted to the House was never mentioned for consideration. The same fate applied to the probe by the Senate and despite petitions submitted to the anti-corruption agencies, there had not been a successful investigation, let alone prosecution.
Ironically, the man at the centre of the N81 billion corruption allegation piloted the forensic audit and led experts to present the report to the government. What more evidence does Nigerians need to realise that the government is as usual playing politics and at the end of the day, no culprit will go down for the numerous frauds committed with various victorious and abandoned projects in the NDDC, I stand to be corrected and I hope that my sense of judgement on the issue wrong this time.