NDDC: How NASS committee chairmen ‘conspired to hijack’ budget, contracts, Pondei alleges

By Haruna Salami

The Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Prof. Kemebradikumo Pondei has alleged that Chairmen of the Senate Committee on NDDC and his counterpart in the House of Representatives, “conspired to hijack” the budget and contracts at the Commission. 

He made the disclosure through the Executive Director (Projects), Cairo Ojougboh, at an investigative public hearing of the Senate Ad-hoc Committee on “alleged financial recklessness in the NDDC”, on Thursday. 

“Of particular concern to the IMC is that both Chairmen of Senate and House committees on NDDC conspired to  hijack the budget and contract’s in the Commission,” Pondei told the Senate Ad-hoc committee, adding that the “monumental fraud in NDDC will make one lose sleep”.

The Managing Director further disclosed that there was a “ghost training file used by those fraudulent people to steal huge sums of money for training that never took place.” 

Pondei alleged that those who have been benefiting from the fraud were not happy that the present Interim Management Committee, IMC, appointed by present Muhammadu Buhari is not ready to allow “business as usual”.

He expressed the appreciation of the NDDC IMC for affording them the opportunity to clarify issues, adding that because of the “hijack” of budget of NDDC by the two chairmen of Senate and House committees, stakeholders in Niger Delta met President Buhari.

Pondei gave the breakdown of funds released from the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation to NDDC between 2016 to May 2020 as follows:  2016 – N41 billion, 2017 N 64 billion, 2018 N71 billion,  2019 N71 billion and January to May 2020 N34 billion.

Declaring the investigative hearing open, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, who was represented by the Deputy Senate Leader, Senator Ajayi Boroffice, said that the allegations of financial recklessness and misappropriation of funds leveled against the Interim Management Committee of the NDDC, are unacceptable hence the decision by the Senate to investigate the activities of the Commission. 

“The NDDC is an important statutory agency that is supposed to improve the lot of the Niger Delta community. It is therefore unacceptable to hear about inappropriate use of resources, or outright financial recklessness,” Lawan said.

Newsdiaryonline reports that the Minister of Niger Delta, Godswill Akpabio was conspicuously absent at the hearing. 

This did not go down well with the Chairman of the Ad-hoc Committee, Senator Olubunmi Adetumbi, who disclosed that the committee wrote Akpabio in May, June and recently in July without a reply. 

The investigative hearing will continue on Friday.