Worried by the persistent criticisms of the operations of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered a forensic audit of the operations of the organisation from 2001 to 2019.
Receiving governors of the states that make up the Commission, led by Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State on Thursday in Abuja, President Buhari said what is presently on the ground in the South south region does not justify the huge resources that have been made available to the organisation.
“I try to follow the Act setting up these institutions especially the NDDC. With the amount of money that the Federal Government has religiously allocated to the NDDC, we will like to see the results on the ground; those that are responsible for that have to explain certain issues.
“The projects said to have been done must be verifiable. You just cannot say you spent so much billions and when the place is visited, one cannot see the structures that have been done. The consultants must also prove that they are competent, the president said.
President Buhari admitted that developing the Niger Delta area required enormous resources compared to other parts of the country with firmer lands.
“I am acutely aware, with my experience, that projects in your area are very expensive; that is why if any job is given, we must make sure that the company is competent and has the capacity to do it well with experienced consultants,” the president added.
He however said that he would wait for the report of the audit before deciding on the next line of action regarding the organisation.
Governor Dickson had earlier expressed the disappointment of other governors with the operations of the NDDC, which they said was characterised by poor choice of projects, shoddy handling, uncompleted jobs and lack of the required support for the efforts of the states and local government administration in the region covered by the organisation.
He, therefore, called for the repositioning of the NDDC in order to achieve the objectives for which it was set up.
The NDDC was created by the Obasanjo administration as an interventionist agency, in response to decades of complaints of neglect by the oil-rich region. The government gave the agency the mandate to develop the region.
Former President Umaru Yar’adua in 2008 created the Ministry of Niger Delta and made the NDDC an agency under the ministry.
The agency has little to show for the billions of naira it has received in the last 19 years.
Many Nigerians believe the NDDC has largely failed in its mandate and has since become a platform for compensating loyal politicians. Former heads of the agency have gone on to contest for political offices amid allegations they used the agency to raise political war chest.