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Senate Indicts NDDC Over Lack Of Accountability

Nigeria senate, JAMB
Posted: Oct 27, 2016 at 4:37 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

* Agency Operated Multiple Accounts In 22 Banks Before TSA

Rotimi Akinwumi

Abuja – The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) came under heavy fire from the Senate on Wednesday over alleged series of infractions noticed in the account of the commission during an interactive session with the Senate Committee on Public Accounts.

The NDDC led by its Acting Managing Director, Ibim Seminitari, was put under pressure for failing to provide evidence of approval for 1,691 contracts out of the entire 1,697 contracts awarded by the commission to registered contractors between 2014 and 2016.

Failure of the commission to provide evidence of approval for the documented contracts came to the fore during vetting of its report by the committee.

The committee led by Andy Uba consequently directed the commission to within seven days furnish it with evidence of approval of all the contracts and relevant certificate of no objection from Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP).

“This committee and by extension, the Senate is not happy with this vague report before us particularly on contract award, date of award, level of execution, names of contractors etc”, said the committee chairman.

Aside failure on evidence of contract approval, the commission was also queried by the committee for running 22 bank accounts before the implementation of Treasury Single Account (TSA) as against four approved for the commission by the government then.

The committee described the practice as untidy, which must be thoroughly investigated.

The committee directed the commission to furnish it with names of the banks upon which its secretariat would request for statement of account between the banks and the commission before the TSA exercise.

The commission was also faulted by the committee for its huge tax debt profile of N28.7 billion against the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and ordered it to start upsetting the debt forthwith.

The N28.7 billion tax debt profile of the commission as explained by Seminitari arose from the N23 billion she met on ground and N5.7 billion penalty slammed on it by FIRS to which she said commitment for payments have been entered into by the two agencies.

Failure of the commission to include income figures in its 2016 report on income and expenditure also put it under fire during the session, with a member of the committee, Bassey Akpan, accusing the NDDC management of deliberate omission.

Though the NDDC boss later informed the committee that a total of N23.5 billion had been given to the commission by the Federal Government in addition to N87.1 billion proceeds made from oil companies but the entire committee members still insisted that the omission was deliberate.

Seminitari responded to all directives given by the committee by saying, “We will try as requested. There were errors in the past issues about award of contracts. We are trying to correct and improve on our standards”.  

Earlier at the beginning of the interactive session, the committee chairman, Andy Uba, had in his opening remarks, lambasted the commission for not coming up with its report on time, accusing it of lack of transparency.

“The committee as part of its mandate of ensuring accountability and transparency in the management of the public accounts of the federation and on receipt of petitions of corruption on the award of contracts at the commission decided to embark on special oversight on income and expenditure of the commission.

“Sequel to the above, the committee wrote the commission on 23rd and 30th August, 2016 requesting for information on revenue, expenditure and personnel information. The commission was to respond within the period of two weeks, but it never responded. The committee wrote a reminder on the 16th September, 2016 and invited the acting managing director to appear before it on 20th September, 2016.”