Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
The House of Representatives, at the weekend, commenced probe into the alleged payment of N70.495 billion by the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) as mobilisation fees to 1,773 contractors between 2008 and 2012.
Chairman, House Committee on Public Accounts, Wole Oke, said the investigative hearing is necessitated by the audit queries from the Auditor General for the Federation (OAuGF) to the NDDC for the period under review.
Oke directed the NDDC acting Managing Director, Prof. Pondei Kemerbrandikumo to provide details of the projects and list of all contractors, who alleged failed to mobilise to site after receiving the payment.
The NDDC boss was also directed to furnish the Committee with the agency’s statement of account showing evidence of the recovery of the money from defaulting contractors.
The committe, while directing the NDDC to provide the letters of award of all the contracts, said it has resolved to embark on physical inspection of all the projects with the view to ascertain the veracity of the claims made by the interventionist agency.
“What the Auditor-General did was to invoke section 4 of the Audit Act to discover the anomalies in the NDDC.
“The main issue is whether the Interim Management Committee has rendered the account up to 2018. We stopped at 2018 due to the coronavirus pandemic, but clearly there are issues here and there,” Oke stated.
According to the Auditor General of the Federation’s report, 219 audit queries were issued by the oAuGF against NDDC within the period under review..
It indicated that 90% of the contractors allegedly collected the mandatory mobilisation fees without reporting to site between 2011 and 2012, for contracts that ought to be completed within 6 months.
However, the NDDC acting Managing Director, who was represented by acting Director of Internal Audit, Mr. Itu Eno Ubi, said the funds were released to the banks that guaranteed the contractors.
According to him, so far, most of the fund has been recovered from the erring contractors, leaving a balance of N19 billion outstanding, against the N70.495 billion outstanding contained in the audit queries.
He added that some of the contractors were unable to complete the projects due to the general security situation in the Niger Delta.