December 6, 2023

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The Much Awaited NDDC Probe

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Penultimate week, the Nigerian president, Muhammadu Buhari announced his plans to probe the activities of the Niger Delta Development Commission from inception till date.
He made this disclosure while receiving governors from the states that make up the NDDC. That announcement was received with so much joy across the region. The reason for the jubilation that greeted the announcement can be understood. Over the years, since the establishment of the commission, there have been allegations of mismanagement of the funds accruing to the commission.
Apart from the funds being mismanaged, projects executed by the commission have been very shabby and in some cases, abandoned, even after the contractors must have been mobilized.
Part of the allegations have been that contracts are usually bought and sold. The projects would be awarded to powerful and influential Nigerians without any capacity to execute them. And then the beneficiaries would sell them to others. Sometimes, a project can be sold to three or four others before it will eventually get to the person that would execute. Expectedly, the contract sum would have drastically reduced before it gets to the contractor that would execute.
So, what happens in most cases is that the job would either be very poorly executed or would be abandoned, especially when the contract sum would have been shared along the line by people who had no business with the job in the first instance. The ultimate losers are the communities who are supposed to have benefitted from those projects.
There have been reports of road projects that have collapsed even when construction is still ongoing. There have also been allegations that the NDDC has become a conduit from where funds are drawn to fund political activities of the ruling government. It can therefore be understood, when the people rejoiced, as soon as the announcement was made.
Unfortunately, the president did not say who would probe the commission. No panel has been set up till date for the purpose, neither has it been said expressly, which of the anti-graft agencies that would carry out the probe.
We would have expected that the president would have named the probe panel immediately the federal government alerted the pubic of the planned probe. It is about three weeks now and nothing has been heard in practical terms, about how the probe would be carried out.
While we praise the federal government for the thoughtfulness, we believe that the probe is necessary and ought to have been done since yesterday. The delay in setting up the probe panel or empowering any of the agencies with clear cut directives on the modalities for the probe is not in the best interest of the commission and indeed, the Niger Delta region.
It is our view that the probe should also be extended to the present interim management of the commission. Afterall, there have been allegations of monies that have been paid out to invisible contractors for so called water hyacinth jobs that have not been executed. The time to begin the financial audit of the NDDC is now.

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