Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
The House of Representatives, yesterday, commenced a probe into alleged N40 billion irregular expenditure by the management of the Niger Delta Development Commission(NDDC).
Chairman, House Committee on NDDC, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, said athough the mandate of the committee was to probe alleged N40billion expenditure by the IMC in three months, documents at its disposal indicated that about N81billion was allegedly spent by the management of the interventionist agency.
The lawmaker said the House has not condemned anybody, hence the need for an investigation into the alleged expenditure, even as he promised that the committee would be painstaking in its assignment.
However, members of the NDDC Interim Management Committee ( IMC), were absent at the investigative hearing.
Tunji-Ojo said the commission in a letter to the committee by the acting managing director,Pondei Kemerbrandikumo, said they would not be able to appear before the committee at yesterday’s hearing, due to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting and appealed that their appearance be rescheduled.
Consequently, the committee directed the NDDC IMC to appear before it today, unfailingly.
Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila, yesterday, said the NDDC had not lived up to expectations 20 years after its establishment to cater for the development needs of the Niger Delta region.
Gbajabiamila, who stated this while declaring open the investigative hearing, said it was disappointing that tough the commission was intended to serve as interventionist agency, which will bridge the development gaps in the Niger Delta, that objective had not been attained.
Consequently, he noted that the investigation was geared at unraveling the reasons behind the failure of NDDC to meet its obligations to the people of the Niger Delta region.
According to him, “ it is intended that the Commission will begin the long-overdue process of making good on our nation’s obligations to the people of the Niger Delta, from whose lands and waters we have for decades drawn our nation’s sustenance. nIn the over two decades since, that promise has not been kept. Despite its critical importance and the vast sums that have been appropriated by the Federal Government, the Niger Delta of Nigeria continues to score exceptionally low on many of the major human development indices. These statistics reflect the reality of disease and deprivation, lack of opportunity and broken dreams that is the plight of many of our fellow citizens in the region. It is therefore particularly disturbing and quite frankly, embarrassing that every other news report about the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) seems to centre around escalating allegations of corruption and malfeasance.