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Groups, CSOs back Buhari on forensic audit of NDDC

*President orders forensic audit of NDDC from 2001 to 2019

The state Chairmen of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the South-south and South-east regions have commended President Muhammadu Buhari over his directive for a forensic audit of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

They also called on the president to urgently inaugurate the new board to superintend over the Commission’s activities for a holistic review and reforms.

The Nation reported that the call and commendation by the chairmen were contained in two separate statements issued by Akwa-Ibom State APC Chairman, Hon. Ini T. Okopido, who is the leader of the South-south Chairmen of the forum, and his Abia State counterpart, Hon. Donatus Nwankpa, leader of South-east Chairmen of the forum respectively, which was made available to journalists in Benin-city

The forum expressed satisfaction on the calibre of those Buhari has already appointed to take over the task of the region’s development, and appealed for their inauguration to pilot the affairs and bring their wealth of experience to bear on the Commission.

The chairmen, while commending the president for his ‘love’ for the development of the Niger Delta region, assured him of their unflinching support to carry out his holistic reforms in the interventionist agency.

Similarly, civil society groups and concerned individuals on Thursday hailed President Muhammadu Buhari for directing that a forensic audit be conducted on the operations, programmes and activities of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

A development economist, Jeffrey Emerson, the executive director, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Auwwal Rafsanjani, and the president of Ijaw Diaspora Coalition, Johnson Ebibai, all said the directive was a step in the right direction, Premium Times reported.

“This is a good development, now that the President has finally responded to the concern by civil society and the demand for him to take action to stop the monumental corruption and outright stealing and diversion of public funds in these agencies meant to help the people and communities in the region,” Mr. Rafsanjani said on Friday.

It would be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari had ordered a forensic audit of the operations of the Niger Delta Development Commission from 2001 to 2019.

The decision followed persistent criticisms of the operations of the commission. A statement by the Special Adviser (Media and Publicity), Femi Adesina, said Buhari gave the directive after receiving governors of the states that make up the NCDC, led by Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State.

The President said what was presently on ground in the South-South region did not justify the huge resources that had been made available to the agency.

He said, “I try to follow the Act setting up these institutions especially the NDDC. With the amount of money that the Federal Government has religiously allocated to the NDDC, we will like to see the results on the ground; those that are responsible for that have to explain certain issues.

“The projects said to have been done must be verifiable. You just cannot say you spent so much billions and when the place is visited, one cannot see the structures that have been done. The consultants must also prove that they are competent.”

“I am acutely aware, with my experience, that projects in your area are very expensive; that is why if any job is given, we must make sure that the company is competent and has the capacity to do it well with experienced consultants”, the President said.

Buhari however said that he would wait for the report of the audit before deciding on the next line of action regarding the organisation.

Earlier, Dickson expressed the disappointment of other governors with the operations of the NDDC which, they said, was characterised by poor choice of projects, shoddy handling, uncompleted jobs and lack of the required support for the efforts of the states and local government administration in the region covered by the organisation.

He, therefore, called for the repositioning of the NDDC in order to achieve the objectives for which it was set up.