The Senate Committee on the Niger Delta Affairs has started perfecting strategies to hold a public hearing on the multi-billion naira emergency projects awarded by the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
Investigations by Sunday PUNCH revealed that majority of the senators from the oil prospecting states in the country are interested in knowing the details of the contracts awarded and the various beneficiaries.
It was discovered that the Senate would rely on the audit reports and queries issued to the agency on the issue by the Auditor – General of the Federation.
The audit reports and queries prepared by the office of the Auditor-General of the Federation are currently domiciled in the Senate Public Accounts Committee and many members of the constitutionally recognised panel are also members of the committee on Niger Delta Affairs.
Further findings by our correspondent revealed that the Senate panel believe that the National Assembly should probe the extra-budgetary spending of the agency because they lacked parliamentary approval.
The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi, told the interim management committee of the NDDC on Wednesday, February 12, when the team defended its 2019 budget that the agency’s handlers erred in law by spending funds not appropriated by the federal legislators.
He asked the NDDC interim management committee to present details of the emergency projects, but the team led by the acting Managing Director, Dr Joi Nunieh, said it did not come with the document since the Senate did not demand for it earlier.
Nwaoboshi therefore told Nunieh to forward details of the extra budgetary spending to the Senate panel before Tuesday so as to form part of his panel’s report due for submission at plenary before the end of the week.
A member of the panel had asked Nunieh to give details of the serving senator who was alleged to be executing 300 contracts for the agency but the acting MD said she was not aware of such information.
Another member of the panel who is also a major stakeholder in the oil rich region of the country told our correspondent on condition of anonymity that his colleagues would also rely on their counterparts in the Public Accounts Committee to organise the public hearing.
The senator said, “We wanted to probe the activities of the NDDC from 2015 till date, but the executive set up an interim management team for that purpose. However, the aspect that concerns us has to do with the money they spent without authorisation by the National Assembly.
“So, we are going to hold a public hearing where Nigerians will actually know what happened to the money put in the trust of the NDDC management for the people of Niger Delta and how the money was spent.”
The acting Managing Director of the agency had told the Senate panel on Wednesday that there were lots of misplaced projects in the NDDC budgets and promised that her team would correct the anomaly.
She said, “I know that there are a lot of misplaced projects in the NDDC budget and that’s what we’re trying to correct in this new dispensation.
“Now, we’re trying to ensure that there is a proper assessment for projects to be taken to various communities.”