Recently, the National Assembly has become a theatre of drama and comedy, especially during the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) probe.
There was exposition, revelation and accusations and counter-accusations between the former acting Managing Director of NDDC, joy Nunieh, and the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Mr Godswill Akpabio, on how funds budgeted and allocated to the commission for developmental projects were allegedly looted by the leadership of NDDC over the years.
While the NDDC probe was still ongoing, with no visible solution, the PDP Minority leader in the House of Representatives, Rep. Ndidi Elumelu, again moved another motion to probe the North East Development Commission, alleging that the management misappropriated the sum of N100 billion.
Elumelu accused the Managing Director of North East Development Commission (NEDC), Alhaji Goni Alkali, of embezzlement of N100 billion, diversion of funds to his close associates, withdrawal of N5 billion from the commission’s account without board’s approval and single handedly procured COVID-19 materials to the tune of N5 billion without board’s approval.
There is no doubt that this particular House of Representatives probe is a misfire and bound to fail. The allegations and accusations are unsubstantiated, done in bad faith and would surely fail due to the hasty and unverifiable job done just for political reason or blackmail.
Available records have shown that the NEDC never received or got up to N100 billion allocation since its inception to date. One therefore wonders how the NEDC spent what it didn’t have. NEDC was inaugurated in May 2019 and did not get funding or allocation till in November 2019.
Therefore, I see these allegations as a direct attack on the leadership of the commission probably due to its management refusal to favour companies of some lawmakers in the award of contract executed by the commission.
I can testify that all contracts awarded by the NEDC were subjected to public procurement act and other due processes, with a view to upholding the anti-graft crusade of President Muhammadu Buhari administration.
The NEDC is an open commission, anybody can go to the organisation to verify the facts rather than resorting to blackmail and character assassination. The NEDC operates TSA Account since its inception and all its funding pass through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) therefore all transactions are traceable.
This clearly shows that all contract processes and expenditures of the commission are subjected to the governing board of the commission which has the mandate to give all necessary approval. Due to the diligent and prudent management of NEDC board, one cannot imagine how somebody will unilaterally withdraw the sum of N5 billion to procure anything as alleged by the House of Representatives.
It is no secret that in September 2019, during the North East Security Conference held in Maiduguri, Borno state capital, a communiqué was issued and one of the recommendations and resolutions of the security conference was that, the commission should assist to buy vehicles for the security agencies. This is to make their Job easier and enhance their operational efficiency.
Investigation reveals that a presentation was made and and the board approved, thereafter, channeled it to the appropriate procurement processes and eventually, the vehicles were procured and distributed to the security agencies.
The management of the commission, under the leadership of Alhaji Mohammad Goni Alkali, no doubt deserve commendation from the legislators for working tirelessly to ensure that the commission discharges its duties not smear allegations. The NEDC can never be like its sister organisation from the South, having Alkali as its managing director.