President Buhari ordered forensic auditing of the NDDC following a massive outcry from Nigerians over the monumental corruption at the Commission over the years.
Renowned broadcaster and Executive Producer of Inside the Niger Delta, Felix Mamode Akugha, led the latest call for the Federal Government to live up to its anti-corruption promises during an anti-corruption radio programme, PUBLIC CONSCIENCE on Radio produced by the Progressive Impact Organization for Community Development, PRIMORG, on Wednesday in Abuja.
Akugha, who stated that bringing all the culprits of corruption at NDDC to book was the only way President Buhari could write his name in gold, revealed that the people from the Niger Delta have become increasingly anxious over the government’s reluctance to act on the final forensic audit report it ordered.
“At this point, the only thing President Buhari can leave to Nigeria is legacy. I don’t think the man is looking for money or something to enrich himself. I think he loves to be remembered as an anti-corruption crusader.
“So for me, I would expect that he (Buhari) puts in all his energy to getting those who are culprits, going back to the time NDDC was established in 2000, those who are the culprit and bring them to book; that is the only way he will write his name in gold, that is the way people of the Niger Delta will say yes Muhammed Buhari worked for us as a people, Akugha advised.
While citing lack of political will as the likely hindrance of the Buhari-led administration to swoop on perpetrators of corruption in the NDDC, he urged the Federal Government to first concentrate on contractors or persons who received funds for the project but failed to execute them at all.
Similarly, Project Advisor and Lead at Social Development Integrated Centre, Vivian Bello, called on the president to act on forensic audit on his table, saying that “the five months’ delay was already a dent on his avowed fight against corruption.”
Bello decried that the forensic audit report has become a secret document, stressing that the government should first reveal the identities of those indicted in the report before prosecution.
“It is a big disservice to us in the Niger Delta that such a report will be released with the huge amount of funds that were paid to the consultants who made this report and no action. This report should not be watered down.
“Let the people know who and who participated in the looting of their commonwealth, and the people will take it up from there. This will serve as the springboard from which other actions will take place.
“All we have gotten is rhetoric – all words and no action, and it will lead us to the same place where we are coming from. So, it appears as if the president’s inaction will certainly embolden those people that have been involved in destroying the Commission,” Bello stressed.
While Legal Practitioner and Publisher of KubwaExpress Newspaper, Felix Ashimole knocked the Buhari-led administration for taking no known step to bring those culpable in fleecing the NDDC despite their anti-corruption mantra.
According to Ashimole the Federal Government has no legal or moral justification not to go after culprits of the forensic audit. Re-echoing the president’s political will was the major problem.
“I still find it mind-boggling that people still consider that President Buhari is fighting corruption. When your principal is not willing to allow you to prosecute, there is nothing you can do. Do we have a man who has the political will to allow the other arm to do what they ought to do? Had it been Mr. President has the political will to do what he ought to do, by now, the Attorney General of the Federation would have commenced prosecution.”
Ashimole, however, urged people from the Niger Delta to take it upon themselves and engage with their leaders and contractors handling projects and ensure they name and shame those stealing their common patrimony.
President Buhari had ordered a forensic audit of the operations of NDDC from 2001 to 2019 on October 17, 2019, and received the report on September 2, 2022. The report had revealed that over 13,000 NDDC projects were abandoned or non-existent despite the release of a whooping N6 trillion allocation in 18 years.
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 has the support of the MacArthur Foundation.