By Christiana Ekpa
The House of Representatives yesterday asked the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to defray its existing liabilities through the implementation of its 2019 budget.
The house disclosed this when the NDDC Interim management led by thousee Acting Managing Director presented the Commission’s 2019 budget before the House Committee on NDDC on Tuesday.
It could be recalled that, the House had resolved that, it will only consider its 2019 budget for implementation and later act on its 2020 budget proposal.
Speaking, Chairman of the Committee, Olubunmi Tuni-Ojo (APC, Ondo) lamented that, the Committee has failed to implement its 2019 budget due to widespread infractions and untoward practices by its former management.
He said that, although it was no fault of the new management, but the House is concerned with the rot in the Commission which has deprived the people of Niger Delta of the needed development.
He said that, as part of the measures to implement the recommendations made by the committee on the NDDC 2019 budget, the Commission must present the list of all contractors being owed.
Tunji-Ojo however disclosed that, payment to claims would only be made after a through verification and approval of the committee.
The chairman of the committee also said that, the NDDC must also recover the over N1 trillion it is being owed by various entities to help it offset the liabilities.
He informed the management that, the committee will present the findings of the public hearing to the House.
He added that, when approved by the House, all ongoing projects in the NNDC 2019 budget will be rolled over to the Commission’s 2020 budget which will be considered after the approval of its 2019 budget.
The Committee chairman lamented that, due to the mess in the NDDC, the commission was 14 months behind schedule in its 2019 budget implementation which he said was a huge drawback.
In her presentation to the committee,the Acting NDDC Managing Director, Mrs Osato Iyasere Arenyeka disclosed that, N346,513,046,220 was proposed by the NDDC as 2019 budget based on assumption of improved revenue inflow.
She however disclosed that, as at December 2018, the aggregate revenue inflow was N291.47 billion.
“The Overhead expenditure (Personnel, Recurrent and Internal Capital) elapses December 31st similarly, (N35.07bn) N35,079,320,850 representing 99.8% was spent. The Capital expenditure (Development Project) elapsed July 31st 2019 while (N255.09bn) N255,096,800,000 representing 82% was spent during the review year. The Commission recorded 83% on its performance for 2018”.
Shedding more light on the findings about infractions in the NDDC, the Acting MD informed that, the new management has uncovered bogus claims on projects by various contractors.
Mrs Ayenreka noted that, many fake IOCs were discovered by the Commission in the course of its investigations adding that many contracts were duplicated through state governments, NDDC, FERMA and other agencies.
She said that many contractors have also been issued certificates for projects not executed saying that, the Commission will fish out persons that authorised or issued the certificates.
She said that, the NDDC has resolved to suspend all emergency contracts awarded by the NDDC as most of them did not follow the laid down procedures and due process.
She added that, reforms to involve the people of the region to take ownership of the projects and ensure their proper execution is underway as people are being encouraged to go back home to invest and be involved in the development of the region.
According to her, the move was to aligned with President Muhammadu Buhari’s reforms to ensure transparency in the activities of the NDDC to serve the people of the Niger Delta region.
Speaking after the budget presentation by the Acting NDDC MD, Chairman of the committee advised the Commission to lower its revenue projection in its proppsed 2020 budget to make it realistic.