Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday ordered a forensic audit of the operations of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) from 2001 to 2019.
Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, said the directive followed the persistent criticisms of the operations of the commission.
Buhari made the disclosure while receiving governors of the states that make up the commission, led by Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State on Thursday in Abuja.
President Buhari said what was presently on the ground in the South-South region does not justify the huge resources that had been made available to the organisation.
“I try to follow the act setting up these institutions especially the NDDC. With the amount of money that the Federal Government has religiously allocated to the NDDC, we would like to see the results on the ground; those that are responsible for that have to explain certain issues.
“The projects said to have been done must be verifiable. You just cannot say you spent so much billions and when the place is visited, one cannot see the structures that have been done. The consultants must also prove that they are competent.”
The president admitted that developing the Niger Delta area requires enormous resources compared to other parts of the country with firmer lands.
“I am acutely aware, with my experience, that projects in your area are very expensive; that is why if any job is given, we must make sure that the company is competent and has the capacity to do it well with experienced consultants,” he added.
Buhari, however, said that he would wait for the report of the audit before deciding on the next line of action regarding the organisation.
Governor Dickson had earlier expressed the disappointment of other governors with the operations of the NDDC, which they said was characterised by poor choice of projects, shoddy handling and uncompleted jobs and lack of the required support for the efforts of the states and local government administration in the region covered by the organisation.
He, therefore, called for the repositioning of the NDDC in order to achieve the objectives for which it was set up.
Those present on the occasion were Governors Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta), Nyesom Wike (Rivers), Dickson (Bayelsa); deputy governor of Edo State, Philip Shaibu; Minister of Niger Delta, Godswill Akpabio and Minister of State for Niger Delta, Tayo Alasoadura, among others.