The Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has expressed commitment to facilitating an efficient forensic audit of the commission, lamenting that the NDDC was currently indebted to some phantom contractors to the tune of over N3trillion.
The committee accused some of the contractors of sponsoring attacks against the audit as approved by President Muhammadu Buhari, adding that one of the vilest attacks was coming from a serving senator (names withheld) who was awarded over 300 multimillion naira contracts by the NDDC, out of which 120 of them have been fully paid for even as the said lawmaker has never mobilized to any of the sites.
The Executive Director, Projects, at the NDDC, Dr Cairo Ojougboh, stated these at a media interface, yesterday, in Abuja.
Ojougboh said: “You will recall that some time ago, the governors of the Niger Delta states visited Mr President after Mr President had sent a list to the Senate for confirmation.
“The leaders of the Niger Delta and these governors complained to Mr President that the NDDC had fallen short of what it was intended to be and to do. Therefore, they asked the president to look again into the affairs of the NDDC.
“In fact, one of the governors, Chief Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, said the NDDC has become a conduit for fraud and a blueprint for cheating in the Niger Delta. Based on the receipt and the complaints from the leaders of the Niger Delta, Mr President there and then instructed that an audit committee, a forensic audit committee, should be set up to look into the management of the NDDC.
“And so, the issues at hand were one, which management will oversee the forensic audit? The woman who was the acting MD then had been in NDDC since the days of OMPADEC, and it was thought that the bureaucracy is part of the problem in the NDDC.
“Therefore, they will not allow them to oversee and to supervise the forensic audit. The other body that will have supervised it is the incoming management but again, it was thought that allowing this board to supervise the forensic audit will also get them encumbered because they will now also be interested in the matters that they are involved in.
“So, the system came up with the idea that an independent body must be put together to oversee the forensic audit for a period of three to six months.
“Thereafter, at the end of the forensic audit, the body that has just been screened will now take over from the Interim Management Committee. Everybody accepted except for some rogue leaders.
“This is why I have reason to commend the Senate President and the Deputy Senate President. These are very good men, but somebody who is particularly interested in a major contract of the NDDC, who is a member of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, he alone has 300 jobs in the NDDC. Of the 300 contracts, 120 has been fully paid, and he has not mobilized to site for these 120.
“The remaining is what he is now using to mobilise thugs in the Niger Delta, to instigate people to start to prevent the audit. Anybody who wants this forensic audit to be stopped is not a proper human being, and is not doing so in the interest of the people of Nigeria,” Ojougboh added.
“What the people want is this forensic audit, and they are asking how would this forensic audit be conducted properly, so that the nation will get the best result? Therefore, the system said it must look for people who do not have pecuniary interests in the NDDC. I, Cairo, I have never entered the NDDC building before. I do not have one contract there.
“The MD has no interest whatsoever in the NDDC. The ED, Finance, also does not have any interest. Therefore, when given the opportunity that we just have been given, our job is to make sure that we avail the auditors all the necessary documents and information, all the necessary help they need, because we are not protecting any interest but to help the auditors to be able to do their job as it is required.
“Therefore, for this individual who is now busy sponsoring thugs everywhere in Bayelsa and Rivers to come and destroy this and he is using the money of the people. You did not indicate your interest to the Senate, and then, you are the one screening the committee that the President has set up. Ideally, you should indicate to the Senate that you are an interested party, and then, you recuse yourself from that process.
“Therefore, it is obvious that the reason he is behaving the way he is behaving is that he wants the system, the looting in the NDDC to continue, and this is what the Interim Management Committee will not support.
“It is as simple as that, and therefore, I appeal to Nigerians to support the position of Mr President, to support the IMC and to support the people of the Niger Delta, so that at the end of the forensic audit, the NDDC Interim Payment Certificates (IPC) that are pending are worth over N3trillion and that is what the NDDC is owing these phantom contractors and it is these phantom contractors that are the people preaching and making noise to stop the probe. All they want is the stealing to continue.
“All they want is to bring puppets to manage the forensic audit because they know that the members of the IMC will not compromise. If you look at the records at the NDDC, you will cry. Some genuine people that have done jobs for the board have not been paid for over 15 years and their families are suffering. Many of those who were paid are these phantom contractors.”
Ojougboh also added that about 10 reputable firms would be engaged to conduct the forensic audit, saying the Interim Management Committee has no intention of dabbling into areas outside its remit as its mandate is different from that of the incoming board.
“The assignments given to the incoming board and the IMC are completely different. Ours is to supervise and aid the forensic team to do their job. And the composition of the forensic team is that they are divided into 10 audit firms.
“Out of the nine states that are in the NDDC community, one audit firm will handle a state and then one will handle the headquarters to make sure that we do not waste time because this audit must be done swiftly and competently,” he said.
Tai APC Collapses As Hundreds Return To PDP …Say They Were Blinded By Fake Promises
Over 500 former members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Tai Local Government Area have returned to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The returnees led by the first PDP Chairman of the area, Hon Peter Gwezia, announced their return to the PDP, last Saturday, during the GDI’s sensitisation programme for the collection of Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVC) at the Council Secretariat, Saakpenwa.
Speaking on behalf of the rest of the returnees while renouncing membership of the APC, Hon Peter Gwezia, said he and other APC members decided to leave the party due to failure of leadership.
While promising to work for the success of the PDP in the 2023 election, Gwezia said the APC lacked ideas, and was like a vehicle without engine, could not take them to their desired destination, hence their decision to leave the party.
In his remarks, Deputy Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Hon Chukwuemeka Aaron, who received the returnees on behalf of the Chairman, PDP Rivers State, Amb Desmond Akawor, assured them of equal treatment, saying there are no new members in the party.
“I want to welcome you all and to say that in PDP and GDI where you are today, no person is new. We all have equal status, we all have equal rights. Some of the people that were with you there doing the jamboree that came back today, they are commissioners; they have gone to the National Assembly, become chairmen of councils.
“So, having seen what our leader, Chief Nyesom Wike has done in Rivers State, and in Tai, and what your chairman of council is doing in Tai, they have come back to take their rightful position. We want to thank all of you, and to say that the party chairman and the chairman of council will integrate you into the activities of GDI”.
Also speaking, GDI President-General, Chief Bright Amaewhule, said the performance of the present administration in the state was enough testimony for any Rivers son or daughter to reckon that PDP was the only party which had their interest at heart.
Amaewhule said that of the candidates lined up for the governorship seat in the state, only the PDP Governorship candidate, Sir Siminialayi Fubara, was competent and qualified to give the state good governance from day one.
He, therefore, challenged eligible voters who have not collected their PVCs to do so as soon as possible, and prepare to cast their votes for the right party which was a master of good governance and quality projects’ delivery in the state come 2023.
The returnees, alongside GDI members from the 10 wards of Tai, including youths, women and students groups, later engaged in a wild gyration, turning the entire arena into dance frenzy.
The event also featured solidarity speeches from stakeholders among them former and current National and State Assembly members, former and serving council chairmen, former commissioners, party stalwarts, and captains of industry, among others.
By: Nelson Chukwudi
MOSOP Tasks SPDC On Fresh Oil Spill
Factional President of the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP), Mr. Fegalo Nsuke, has called on Shell Petroleum Development Company (Shell) Joint Venture (JV), the oil and gas multinational company, to take full responsibility and appropriate action to curb a fresh oil spill in Bodo Community in Gokana Local Government Area of Rivers State.
Nsuke, who noted that the spill was first noticed in the community early last week, blamed Shell for the spill and urged the Dutch multinational to alleviate its impact on the community, curtail its spread and commence proper remediation and compensation in accordance with global best practices.
The MOSOP leader noted that the oil spills from the Trans Niger Pipeline operated by the Shell JV, suddenly erupted within the residential area of the community, alleging that it must have been caused by equipment failure.
He observed that although the cause of the spills, which was occurring 11years after the release of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) reports, was yet to be ascertained, the spills have affected residential areas and community dwellers have been asked by the MOSOP to evacuate the area, to avoid causality in case of a fire.
“This massive spill is occurring 11 years after the UNEP released a damning report exposing Shell’s devastation of the Ogoni environment.
“We have communicated with community leaders to cooperate with investigations and ensure that every detail about this spill is communicated to our secretariat as soon as possible”, he said.On his part, Executive Director, Youths and Environmental Advocacy Centre (YEAC), Fyneface Dumnamene Fyneface, said, “the cause of the crude oil spill which occurred inside the community where people live is not yet known at this time.”
By: Tonye Nria-Dappa
Nigeria’s Freedom Of Expression Attracting Global Attention, Buhari Claims
The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on Sunday, said it was instructive that Nigeria was attracting positive international attention as a country that promoted media freedom and freedom of expression.
He said this was premised on the government’s understanding of the important roles that information literacy and media education played in sustainable development.
According to a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, Buhari said this while pledging his “full support” for three major international events scheduled to hold in Nigeria in October and November 2022.
They include: the 2022 United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation’s Global Media, Information Literacy Week in Abuja, in October, the first Global Conference on Cultural Tourism and Creative Industry in Lagos, as well as the second Global Association of Literary Festivals Conference, Abeokuta, in November.
In the statement titled ‘President Buhari pledges support as Nigeria hosts major cultural, tourism and literary events,’ he said the global events were opportunities to showcase the nation’s rich heritage in culture, arts, tourism and entertainment as well as advancements on media freedom.
Earlier, the Minister of Information ad Culture, Lai Mohammed, said that hosting the 2022 UNESCO Global Media, Information Literacy Week, would help to address the rising spate of fake news, misinformation and hate speech.
Expressing his delight to welcome international visitors to Nigeria, Buhari urged citizens to leverage the events to exhibit the values “that make us a unique, friendly and peace-loving people.”
The statement read in part, “Welcoming the decision by the UNESCO’s World Tourism Organisation and the Global Association of Literary Festivals to grant Nigeria the right to host these separate historic events, the President assures all relevant stakeholders and participants of the warmth and hospitality of the people of Nigeria.
“On the MIL Week, Buhari notes that it is instructive that Nigeria is attracting positive international attention as a country that promotes media freedom and freedom of expression, recognising the important roles information literacy and media education play in sustainable development.
“On the first Global Conference on Cultural Tourism and Creative Industry, the President says the rapid growth of Nigeria’s film, fashion, music, and the Information and Communications Technology sector, and the increase in international appeal and acceptance would continue to spur government to devote more resources to the sector.”
Among other initiatives, Buhari noted that the Creative Industry Financing Initiative, established by his administration and managed by the Central Bank of Nigeria in collaboration with the Bankers’ Committee, had provided single-digit financing to many young Nigerians in the fields of fashion, film, music and information technology.
He noted that the $100 million re-development of the National Theatre, Lagos, into a world-class creative park is also ongoing, following the handover of the facility to the CBN and the Bankers Committee.
The President, therefore, expressed confidence that the literary world would find many good things to celebrate about Nigeria when they meet in the historic city of Abeokuta, homeland and birthplace of one of Nigeria’s finest literary icons and Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka.
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