Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, has issued a directive that all contracts awarded by the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) must be verified before payment.
Akpabio mandated that all contract papers for awaiting payment should be submitted to Field Forensic Auditors for verification before NDDC can make payment.
The minister stated this when he flagged off Project Site Verification exercise by NDDC Forensic Auditors in the nine States of the region in Akwa Ibom State.
He disclosed the exercise, which was in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s vision for development and sustenance of peace in the Niger Delta region would establish amongst others, the exact status of all contracts for projects and services classified into completed, uncompleted, abandoned, ongoing and non-existing in all the constituents of the States during the period under review.
He disclosed that President Buhari has approved the purchase of 33 vehicles for the Forensic Auditors to enhance movement in nine States.
According to him: “the Auditors would be expected to submit a comprehensive report within 3-4 months to be sent to Mr. President as soon as their work is accomplished, you have seen the readiness of the team, it is suicidal to send these people to undertake this task without adequate security back-up, that is why there is need for security apparatus to be set-up.”
He however lamented that NDDC as an institutional structure established to spearhead the development of the region, has failed to deliver on its mandate despite the huge sums of money budgeted and expended over the years for this purpose by the Federal Government.
He recalled that following the approval of Mr. President and Federal Executive Council (FEC) for the Forensic Audit of the NDDC, the Lead Forensic Auditor was inaugurated on September 29, 2020 and subsequently sixteen (16) Field Auditors as well as the Forensic Audit Security Committee to provide security protection for the audit exercise in the states.
According to the Minister, the mandate of the Forensic Audit amongst others are to undertake a complete forensic Audit Exercise of the NDDC projects across the nine Niger Delta Region covering 2001-2019; responsible for the review of governance and organizational structure of the Commission as well as develop operational guidelines and a fit for purpose organogram that would transform the NDDC to globally competitive institution and block leakages.
The Minister hinted the President would be commissioning about 64 classrooms and appreciable road projects across the 9 States of the Niger Delta Region undertaken by the NDDC in the next few weeks while work is ongoing on the East-West Road, adding the Ministry also embarked on several empowerment programmes to assist the youths and people of the region.