A new report by the Civil Society Coalition on Audit in Nigeria (CSCAN) has revealed that the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) is unable to account for N15 billion in the course of verifying 115 contracts awarded by the commission.
The coalition, which includes Paradigm leadership Support Initiative (PLSI), Budget Foundation, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), Dataphyte, Step Up Nigeria, Accountability Lab Nigeria, Centre for Health, Equity and Justice (CEHEJ), Basic Rights Watch, Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), other CSOs and media executives in Nigeria, revealed in a 293-page report in Abuja on Wednesday, that most of the projects were either completely abandoned or poorly executed.
CSCAN which said it has physically verified 115 projects of 176 NDDC contracts had highlighted in its February 2021 analysis of Compliance Audit Reports on NDDC published by the Office of the Auditor-General for the Federation that the interventionist agency was unable to account for N90.9 billion on 176 contracts awarded between 2008 and 2018.
Presenting the report during a press conference in Abuja on Wednesday, the executive director at PLSI, Olusegun Elemo, decried the massive waste of resources in the region.
According to him, ‘’Our independent findings on these 115 projects revealed that 46 of the projects had been executed, 12 of them executed with irregularities, two were partially executed, four projects were executed by other agencies, three projects not executed at all. 19 of the projects were poorly implemented, 11 are still abandoned while 18 of the projects had no trackable location.’’
Elemo said the fiscal performance of the 115 projects shows that contracts awarded amounted to N98.5 billion, payments to contractors totalled N61.8 billion while the sum of N15.3 billion is yet to be accounted for. Six of the projects are on education, one related to health, four on water, 74 on road infrastructure while 29 of the projects fell within other categories.
He said, “Within the last six months (March-August 2021), our coalition monitored 115 priority projects out of 176 contracts highlighted in our review and analysis of Compliance Audit Reports of the Auditor-General for the Federation on NDDC.”
Also, the principal Lead of BudgIT Foundation, Gabriel Okeowo, said with the forensic audit ordered by President Muhammadu Buhari now concluded and a summary report indicating over 13,700 poorly executed and unverified projects by NDDC despite N6 trillion allocation it received from 2001 to 2019, it will be in the interest of the people of Niger Delta and by extension Nigeria for the federal government to make the full report of the forensic audit exercise public and religiously implement recommended sanctions and reforms to reposition the NDDC for improved performance.
On her part, programme director for Step Up Nigeria, Zainab Haruna, urged the National Assembly through its Committees on Public Accounts and anti-corruption agencies to look at the findings contained in the two Compliance Audit Reports published by the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation as well as the Independent Findings report presented by the Coalition to ensure that those responsible for abusing extant laws that set up NDDC to mismanage public funds allocated to the Commission are made to account for all the monies.
Also, Country director, Accountability Lab, Odeh Friday, reiterated that Nigeria is in a complicated financial corner, hence there was a need for the federal government of Nigeria to re-consider a new audit bill which is very key to good public governance and strengthening accountability mechanisms in government MDAs such that this can drastically reduce the mismanagement of Nigeria’s lean resources and improve the trust level between citizens and the government in open governance and transparency.