Revelations from the ongoing forensic audit of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) are a clear justification of President Muhammadu Buhari’s decision to take a look at the books of the interventionist agency.
According to the Buhari Media Organisation (BMO), the fact that NDDC’s interim management committee is also digging into what it described as fraudulent contracts between 2017 and 2019 showed that the President is not prepared to provide cover for anyone found wanting.
In a statement signed by its Chairman Niyi Akinsiju and Secretary Cassidy Madueke, BMO said this reflects the President’s zero-tolerance for corruption, and his expectations from his political appointees.
“Since the President set up an interim management for the NDDC and ordered a forensic audit, Nigerians have been treated to all sorts of revelations about how the agency had been largely unable to discharge its responsibilities in the Niger Delta region.
“We also saw how some members of the political elite had tried to put a wedge in the committee’s activities by insisting that a Board that had been named by the President be sworn in.
‘If the NDDC board had taken office, chances are that the forensic audit could have ended because the Internal Management Committee (IMC) would have stopped working.
“But today, President Buhari’s decision to stick with his position on the Dr Joy Nunieh-led IMC is being proved to be well-thought-out, considering the rot that is regularly filtering out since the audit of NDDC operations began.”
BMO pointed out that the fact that the committee has dug up fraudulently awarded contracts, worth N1.3trn, between 2017 and 2019 is evidence that there is no sacred cow when it comes to the President’s war against corruption.
“From the outset, it was clear that this administration was not keen to protect anyone who may have run foul of the law when President Buhari expanded the probe period to cover NDDC activities in his first term in office.
“This was an unprecedented move in a polity where governments are reluctant to beam the searchlight on Ministries, Departments and Agency (MDAs) on their watch.
“What we know is that if anyone is found culpable in any fraudulent acts that impacted negatively on NDDC’s ability to deliver on its mandate to the people of oil-rich communities, there is no way they will go unpunished.
“A very good example is the on-going trial of the former Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF) Babachir Lawal for financial malfeasance over what is now known as grass cutting scandal in North-East Nigeria.
“Another pointer to the government’s zero-tolerance for corruption in its ranks is the trial of the former Coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme Major-General Paul Boroh (rtd).”
BMO urged Nigerians to rally behind President Buhari’s administration in its bid to ensure that the people get value for money allocated for infrastructure and other projects in any part of the country.