President Muhammadu Buhari has been urged to expeditiously take action against the staff of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and contractors found culpable in the brazen criminality, contract scams, and embezzlement of the Commission since its establishment in 2000.
The admonition is coming on the heels of the expose by The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, which says that the recently submitted final forensic audit report of the NDDC had 12,128 abandoned projects that could not be traced to any contractor.
President Buhari had in October 2019 ordered for forensic auditing of the Commission after pressures from governors from the Niger Delta region, civil society organizations, and Nigerians over the endemic corruption in the agency.
Programme Coordinator at Social Development Integrated Center, Isaac Botti led the call during an anti-corruption radio program, PUBLIC CONSCIENCE on RADIO, produced by the Progressive Impact Organization for Community Development, PRIMORG, on Wednesday in Abuja.
Botti who lamented the culture of overlooking audit and corruption reports in Nigeria said President Buhari must address the gaps in the forensic audit report of the NDDC objectively and without bias, noting that the “NDDC forensic audit will not achieve anything if there is no political will to implement it”.
“With regards to the NDDC forensic audit report, President Buhari should show the public he meant business, he should make the report available to the public, he should ensure that proper and right actions are followed and that will instill confidence in the public and show that he is ready to fight corruption.
“If the President says he is fighting corruption, then let him fight it without bias and objectively which include doing everything that will help control the incidences of corruption and supporting every process that curbs corruption,” Botti stressed.
He added that the two decades of mismanagement and embezzlement of funds meant to develop the region have been made possible due to corruption and failure to institute governing board of the NDDC; which plays a significant role in overseeing the operation of the commission.
On his part, the Regional Editor of The News Guru Newspapers, Emmanuel Ovuakporie expressed discontent with the audit report and the auditors, while calling on President Buhari to create special courts that will swiftly tackle corruption in Nigeria.
Ovuakporie said since the audit report on the president’s table is from the inception of the Commission every person who headed the commission in the past should be questioned, insisting that a special court to try corruption cases will ensure faster results.
His words: “We need special courts to try corrupt politicians, if we have such courts, these people (corrupt Nigerians) will change their mindset. If you have a special court dedicated especially to try corrupt officers within a short period there will be swift judgment and people will know that there are courts that can take care of their issues without wasting time.
“The forensic report covers from 2000 to 2020 which is exactly 20 years, so it means virtually everybody that has managed the commission from the beginning to date should be investigated. If Buhari wants to let us know that he is fighting corruption he should set up special courts to try corrupt officers,” Ovuakporie stated.
He assured that The News Guru Newspapers will go the extra mile to inform the public of what is actually happening in the NDDC despite the difficulties associated with accessing information in government agencies.
A Nigerian, identified as Joseph who called into the radio programme also had these to say: “The youth of the Niger Delta region should mobilize themselves, every youth should insist that this report be made known; Let us know who are doing these things, the best way to tackle the corruption is to know who are the enemies of the Niger Delta.”
Public Conscience is a syndicated weekly anti-corruption radio program used by PRIMORG to draw government and citizens’ attention to corruption and integrity issues in Nigeria.
The program is supported by the MacArthur Foundation.