The Senate Committee on Niger Delta Affairs has given recognition to the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) headed by Dr Joy Nunieh.
The committee also threw its weight behind the ongoing forensic auditing of accounts of the agency by the executive arm of government .
The executive had earlier discontinued with the plan to inaugurate the 15 member board of the commission screened by the Senate in Nov. 2019.
But the Senate, in December 2019, ordered its committee to accord recognition to the approved board members and not the interim management committee.
Pesident Muhammadu Buhari then wrote the Senate that in view of the forensic auditing going on in the agency, the interim management committee would hold sway pending the recomposition of a new board .
In line with the request, the Senate Committee on NDDC led by Sen. Peter Nwaoboshi (PDP Delta), granted audience to the IMC members and considered the N346 billion 2019 budget proposal of the agency.
Nwaoboshi in his remarks at the budget defence session said : “Senate supports ongoing forensic auditing going on in NDDC and by extension not against the IMC running the agency now .
“We are here to consider and approve the agency’s budget proposals for 2019 as forwarded to the Senate by President Muhammadu Buhari in December 2019.
”However in doing that , we shall be guided by policy thrust of the government on budget proposals, implementation and performances,” he said.
According to him , in line with submissions made by the president on Oct. 8, 2019 during presentation of the 2020 budget estimates, performance status of projects in previous years will be strictly considered in giving appropriation to any proposal.
NDDC, however ran into trouble waters when the committee demanded for documents on all its emergency projects which could not be provided by the Acting Managing Director, Dr Joy Nunieh.
The committee consequently directed her to make the documents available unfailingly by Feb. 17.
Nunieh, in her response, assured the committee that the documents would be made available on Feb. 17
She assured the committee members that the agency’s activities were strictly guided by the next level agenda of the present administration in terms of transparency and accountability on projects execution.
She said there were lots of misplaced projects in previous budget, noting that the IMC was trying to correct that.
“Now, we’re trying to ensure that there is proper assessment for projects to be taken to various communities.
“We want to ensure that when NDDC goes to a community to do a project, they should be able to provide proof that the plot of land has been donated to the commission.
” Some residents come to claim a plot of land after a structure has been built; I have been under so much pressure and blackmailing because I’ve been pressurised to pay contractors quickly.
”So, I assure the public hat we are not going to be under any pressure to pay contractors that have not performed.
“Some contractors got awarded contracts before their companies were registered.
“The pressure and blackmail that I’ve refused to pay money quickly, is getting embarrassing but I know that the community stands with us, the communities are waiting for the assessment.
“I want to assure this committee that history will never repeat itself.
“For scholarships, we have decided that instead of giving 200 scholarships to people that don’t deserve it, we will rather have scholarships within Nigeria for Masters degree in every ward.
” One person per ward. For every first class student,” she said.(NAN)