By Lillian Ogbonna (AGENDAWATCHDOG) – Prof. Kemebradikumo Pondei, the acting Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has denied that, contrary to trending news stories, N40 billion was not missing from the commission’s coffers nor has it been misappropriated.
The acting Tsar of the NDDC made the rebuttal during a media chat in Abuja, where he disclosed that the commission operates only one account with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), which made it impossible for such a huge sum to be withdrawn without the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation’s approval.
Excerpts of his rebuttal read: “We have done different interventions; nobody can find N40 billion missing, we operate accounts only in the CBN and the accounts there were published and it is from there that the investigation in the Senate were based on, account provided by the CBN, item by item.
“So there is no way N40 billion can be missing and the office of the Account General will not flag it, the Auditor General Office also audit accounts, so let them wait and do the proper auditing and if we are found liable, then they will know what to do.
“That is why the National Assembly has the Public Account Committee which looks into all types of expenditure and revenue and does it mostly as a postmortem”.
Breaking down the expenses so far incurred by the commission, Pondei said, “If you attended the hearing in the Senate, the CBN and the Accountant General’s office, gave account of how much that had been spent by the two interim management committees of the NDDC which was N81 billion.
“Out of the N81 billion, N59.1 billion was recorded to have been spent by this particular management committee here.
“In the same report from both agencies, the commission spent N38.6 billion on projects and over N35 billion of this amount, we have published in the media and none of the contractors have come out to say that they did not receive that money.
“The balance of N20.5 billion covered a wide range of things from grossly related to staff matters mostly salaries, historical debts we inherited because the IMC cleared backlog of files left untreated that were left to continue, we have paid back hotel bills that have been there for long, Staff Duty Tour Allowances (DTA) for almost four years”.