NDDC reacts to corruption allegation, defends car purchases

The Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, on Thursday absolved its current management of corruption and reckless spending of funds levelled against the commission by the presidency.

Earlier on Thursday, the Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, PACAC, Itse Sagay, accused the Governing Board and management of the commission of being reckless with funds meant for the development of the oil rich region.

Mr. Sagay, who spoke at the opening of a two-day national dialogue on corruption in Abuja organised by PACAC in collaboration with the Office of the Vice President, said the commission recently bought 70 exotic cars, including eight Lexus SUVs at N78 million each, and 10 Landcruiser SUVss each costing N63 million.

The chairman of the presidential committee said the vehicles were acquired with funds meant for the provision of water, housing, hospital, schools and infrastructure development in the Niger Delta.

‎The law professor also criticised the Nigeria Customs Service for alleged corruption, saying nothing had changed in the agency since the current administration came on board in May 2015.

“The recklessness with which public officers spend public funds is insensitive to the point of insanity. The level of insensitivity has become pathological,’’ Mr. Sagay said.

In his reaction, the spokesperson of the commission, Chijioke Amu-Nnadi, denied the allegations, saying no such purchases were made since the current Governing Board assumed office on November 4, 2016.

He, however, did not say anything on the roles of the NDDC’s past management.

“Indeed, it is a known fact that the Chairman, the distinguished Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba (SAN), the Managing Director/CEO, Nsima Ekere, and the two Executive Directors are still using their private vehicles three months after assumption of duties,” Mr. Amu-Nnadi said in a statement.

He said the NDDC, which is now planning to acquire operational vehicles,including five Toyota Prado SUVs, 10 Toyota Hilux trucks, four Toyota Landcruiser SUVs, one Toyota Coaster bus and two Toyota Hiace buses, was adhering strictly to due process.

Mr. Amu-Nnadi said, pursuant to this, the commission had just received the due process compliance certificate from the Bureau of Public Procurement, BPP, and was preparing the mandatory memo for the approval of the Executive Council of the Federation.

“We wish to restate that the current Board and Management of the NDDC is committed to making its transactions transparent, by adhering strictly to processes and procedures of government, as espoused in the Board’s four-Rs initiative of restoring the Commission’s core mandate, restructuring the balance sheet, reforming our processes and reaffirming a commitment to doing what is right and proper at all times in facilitating the sustainable development of the Niger Delta region,” he said.

The NDDC spokesperson said the Commission was also partnering with Bureau for Public Service Reforms (BPSR), Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) and Open Government Partnership (OGP) to improve the Commission’s governance systems, procurement and project implementation processes, to plug all loopholes and systematically eliminate all incidences of mismanagement and corruption.

‎”NDDC is always ready to open its books for audit. We are also committed to responding to all inquiries from well-meaning individuals and groups seeking clarification on rumours and possible false information.

“While asking for support from all stakeholders to enable the commission succeed in the ambitious task of reforms, the new NDDC is evolving as a responsible public institution and members of the public should feel free to get authentic information on its activities to avoid sensationalism,” he said.

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