NDDC- A Cankerworm Of Corruption, By Norbert Fidelis

THE Niger Delta Area of Nigeria consists of nine States that are rich in oil and gas. It’s the treasure base of the country as about 80 percent of the nations earnings comes from there.

However, the mineral resources they possess, has fast turned into a curse, rather than a blessing to them as the people of the area has been neglected with their citizens living in poverty and squalor . The industrial activities of the oil companies and their explorations have destroyed their farmlands and aquatic life, their buildings are no longer habitable, good drinking water remains a mirage and some of their communities cannot be accessed because of bad road network

These infrastructural deficiencies has led to various agitations by the people of that area as they feel marginalized by both the Government and the oil companies operating there. This in turn has degenerated in to restiveness , kidnapping and militancy among the youths of that area

In view of the above, the Federal Government ,in March 2020 set up the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) Act, with the mandate to formulate guidelines and policies for the development of the region. Also, the commission is to identify factors militating against the development of the regions , assist the member states in the formulation and implementation of policies, accessing and reporting projects being carried out by oil companies in the region and advising Government on how to prevent oil spillages in the various communities of the region.

However, more than two decades after the commission was established, it has failed woefully to fulfil it’s mandate of developing the area as well as failed to account for the trillions of naira allocated to it for Development. Investigation shows that NDDC is a Cankerworm of Corruption as the commission has received and squandered over $40billion (15trillion naira) since inception. It has failed woefully to achieve it’s purpose and its desirable effect on the citizens . Corruption scandals range from contract racketeering, contract inflation, phantom projects, to project abandonment, poor execution of projects and settlement of political godfather’s

It is therefore no surprise in Jan, 2020, when the people became furious over a report of extra budget spending in 7 months amounting to over 1 trillion naira by NDDC . The money was said to be used for about 1,921 emergency contracts fraudulently awarded by the interim Management of NDDC. The Senate also discovered that the commission spent over 40 billion naira in May 2020 without recourse to established process of funds disbursement. Again, there are allegations of squandering over 1.5 billion naira for members of staff of the commission on palliatives and another 3.1 billion on COVID 19 personal protective equipments without due process.

It was also discovered that some 30 billion naira has been spent on some frivolous budget which include quiz competition in the secondary schools of Niger Delta amounting to 75 million naira, 150 million naira for the review of Niger Delta Development Plan and 3.5 billion naira for the procurement of furniture and fittings for the head office among others

In it’s effort of pursuing accountability and Justice, A Non Governmental Organization, Social Action, conducted an on the field monitoring and assessment of the projects in five of the Niger Delta States namely, Akwa Ibom, Delta, Rivers Ondo and Imo States. According to Social Action, NDDC Capital budget for 2019 has an allocation of 306.5billion funds. This amount was shared withinthe 9 Sates for Development with Delta State having the highest share of 46.1 billion naira followed by Akwa Ibom with 38.96 billion naira ,Rivers 33.5 billion naira, Bayelsa 32.5 billion naira Edo 14.2 billion naira, Ondo 13.8billion naira ,Abia 11.4billion naira ,Cross River 10.5 billion naira and Imo State with 9.4 billion naira.

At the end of the project inspection and using Delta State as a case study, Social Action discovered that out of the 10 project site visited, only one can be ascertained to be completed, which is the renovation of the Female Hostel at St. Brendan Sec. School, Bomadi. Others are either abandoned or non existence. Same goes for the other 4 States. What a Pond Of Crocodiles

According to Social Action, corruption in the NDDC is the major factor contributing to it’s abysmal performance as the Min. Of Niger Delta affairs that is supposed to follow up and supervise the contract execution has compromised along side the National Assembly. The question now is, where did all the money go to and will things continue to go this way? Where do we go from here?