An aide to President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday declined to say which government department or official is handling the report of the forensic audit of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
The aide, Ita Enang, who is a senior special assistant to the president on Niger Delta Affairs, said to disclose where the report is or who is working on it at “this time” would amount to “speaking too much on the affairs and the internal workings of government”.
“I will not specifically tell you where it is. But I will simply answer this – the documents were submitted to Mr President through the Attorney General of the Federation and it was in the public glare, and that is the only thing I can say,” said Mr Enang who was speaking as a guest on Channels TV programme, Politics Today.
Mr Enang, a former senator from Akwa Ibom State, did not disclose much about the audit report despite the attempt by the programme anchor, Kayode Okikiolu, to prod him to do so.
Mr Okikiolu said to the presidential aide that Nigerians did not know much about the forensic audit which he (Okikiolu) said “a lot (of it) is being shrouded in secrecy”.
Mr Enang appealed for patience, saying the report would have to go through the official process and a whitepaper issued on it.
He agreed with the programme anchor that Nigerians deserve the right to know those responsible for the underdevelopment of the Niger Delta region.
He said the roles played by various individuals and organisations in the affairs of the NDDC were already known to the public during investigations and hearings conducted by the auditors.
“At least, in the course of the public hearings during the forensic audit, questions were asked. In the course of the foreign audit, persons went to different project sites and most of them were done in the glare of the public.
“In the course of the forensic audit, the names of contractors who were handling several projects were mentioned. In the course of the audit, most of the projects that were awarded which have not taken off the ground were mentioned. In the course of the audit, the payments that were made for the quantum of road and the extent of what was done and the outstanding not done for which money may have been paid was also stated,” he said.
Continuing, Mr Enang said: “I want to say that there was some level of caution at a point by the Niger Delta Development Commission, starting from the era of Barrister Dan-Abia, followed by Obong Nsima Ekere, they were not paying mobilisation for projects.
“When they give you a job, you will have to source for money and do the job and after that you will be paid on milestones done. So, under those tenure there was not much money paid for work not done completely, but there were other issues that were raised which have been examined and I believe that the forensic audit report has responded to it and the whitepaper may address all of that.”
Mr Enang reiterated President Buhari’s promise to recover the funds looted from the NDDC.
“We will be able to pursue, overtake and recover all. We will be able to recover lost grounds,” Mr Enang said.
NDDC plagued by corruption, maladministration
NDDC was established some 21 years ago by President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration as an intervention agency to speed up the development of the oil-rich Niger Delta region, but it has been plagued by corruption and maladministration.
READ ALSO: NDDC has 13,000 doubtful projects despite receiving N6 trillion allocation in 19 years – Malami
Some officials of NDDC are known to have connived with contractors to steal the commission’s funds, while thousands of abandoned NDDC projects litter various communities in the Niger Delta, and the residents of the region continue to live in poverty and polluted environments.
The forensic audit initiated by Mr Buhari’s administration had raised hope of some cleansing in the commission.
The audit report was submitted in September, last year, to Mr Buhari by the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio.
“We shall ensure every recoverable kobo, is recovered for use in service of the people of this region and those found culpable shall face the law,” the president said recently of the audit report.
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