Niger Delta activists have asked the National Assembly to explain the reasons for the delay in launching the proposed investigation into the activities of the Interim Management Committee of the Niger Delta Development Commission.
Briefing journalists in Port Harcourt, Rivers State on Tuesday, the activists under the auspices of the Niger Delta Rights Advocates said the National Assembly should immediately live up to its oversight function of probing the IMC in the interests of the people of the region.
The Spokesperson for NDRA, Darlington Nwauju, who read out the group’s position, said they were disappointed that after responding to the calls by the National Assembly for Memoranda to aid the probe, the Federal lawmakers were still dragging their feet.
Nwauju said, “We want to announce to the world that in response to the calls for memoranda by the National Assembly, we have submitted our position to the House of Representatives and we must say that we are disappointed with the undue delay with the investigations of the NDDC as ordered by the leadership of both chambers of the NASS.
“May we remind the NASS that it took the Stephen Oronsanye Committee on rationalisation of government parastatals eight weeks to come up with an 800-page report, which is still being talked about till today. In fact, if it took the committee eight weeks to undertake such a humongous assignment, we cannot be smiling at the NASS for buying time in probing the activities of the NDDC under Professor Pondei.”
While declaring support for the forensic audit of the NDDC ordered by President Muhammad Buhari, Nwauju said the investigations should go beyond the period of 2000 to 2019 to include the financial activities of the IMC from January till date.
He recalled that when the probe was initially proposed by the National Assembly, the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, declared on May 8, 2020, that he was willing to participate in the public hearing and even suggested that the probe should be conducted live.
Nwaudu wondered what later changed that prompted cacophony of voices to rise against the probe and, decried media attacks on personalities insisting on the investigations.
He said it had become expedient for the IMC to explain the rationale in its award of two contracts worth N39.4million and N641million to a media consultancy firm to generate media and communication support for forensic audit exercise.
“Who is against the forensic audit and why do we have to spend more than double of what we are paying the forensic auditors just to do media war?” He queried.
He added, “The financial activities of NDDC IMC since January till date must be subjected to forensic probe because, as we speak, we are getting credible reports of acts of corruption still taking place, especially with procurement process in the agency.
“The NDRA challenges the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs to contradict our claims that the Federal Executive Council was deceived to endorse the recent contracts for the purchase of 62 vehicles for the NDDC as there is no appropriation for this in the NDDC budget 2019.
“Moreover, the 2019 budget expired on May 31st and the 2020 budget is yet to be approved. So, where will the minister and the NDDC source N1.599bn to purchase 62 vehicles?”