President Muhammadu Buhari, on Thursday, received the final report of the forensic audit of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC.
Buhari, who was represented by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, received the documents, which were conveyed in sacks and presented by the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio.
In his remarks shortly before he handed over the report, Akpabio, disclosed that the forensic audit covered a total of 13,777 contracts that were awarded from 2001 to 2019 at a final contract value of over N3trillion.
Responding after he received the report, the AGF, noted that the Federal Government approved about N6trillion for the NDDC in 18 years.
He however decried that bulk of funds the Commission received for the development of the Niger Delta region, was diverted into private pockets, noting that execution of 13,777 projects were substantially compromised.
Malami said the essence of the forensic audit was to ensure probity and accountability in the use of public funds.
He said FG was concerned that the NDDC operated a total of 362 bank accounts, leading to “lack of proper reconciliation of accounts”.
The AGF maintained that the Buhari-led government would in consequence, apply the law to remedy the deficiencies outlined in the audit report, as well as to recover funds that were not properly utilized for the public purposes they were meant for.
He said: “I welcome you all to the presentation of the Report on the forensic audit of the Niger Delta Commission (NDDC), which report I am to receive on behalf of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR.
“You will recall the President had ordered for a holistic forensic audit of the activities of the Commission from inception to August 2019 in response to the yearnings of the people the Niger Delta Region to reposition it for effective service delivery.
“It is imperative to state that, the call for the audit by the people of the Niger Delta Region arose from the huge gaps between resources invested in the region vis a vis the huge gap in infrastructural, human and economic development.
“It is on record that between 2001 and 2019, the Federal Government has approved N3, 375, 735,776,794.93 Three Trillion, Three Hundred and Seventy Five Billion, Seven Hundred and Seventy Six Thousand, Seven Hundred and Ninety Four Naira, Ninety Three Kobo as budgetary allocation and N2,420,948,894,191.00 Two Trillion, Four Hundred and Twenty Billion, Nine Hundred and Forty Million, and, Eight Hundred and Ninety Four Thousand, One Hundred and Ninety One Naira as Income from Statutory and Non Statutory Sources, which brings the total figure to the sum of approximately Six Trillion Naira given to the Niger Delta Development Commission.
“Consequently, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved the engagement of a Lead Forensic Auditor, as well as 16 reputable Audit Firms to conduct the audit exercise.
“The President is delighted that the auditors have now completed this exercise and the Report is today being presented.
“Furthermore, the President is not oblivious of the interest generated by Stakeholders towards the forensic audit exercise and the agitation for the constitution of the Board of the NDDC.
“However, this Administration is determined to address challenges militating against the delivery of the mandate of the NDDC to the people of the Niger Delta Region.
“It is in the broader context of the foregoing developments that the President recently signed into Law the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) which has been a contentious issue over the years for successive Governments, to bring about the prudence and accountability in the Petroleum Sector and to give a sense of participation and ownership to the Host communities.
“The Report on the forensic audit of the NNDC and your recommendations will therefore be critically analysed for necessary action and implementation.
“We owe it a duty to the people of the Niger Delta Region to improve their standard of living through the provision of adequate infrastructural and socio-economic development.
“The welfare and socio- economic inclusion of the Niger Delta Region is paramount to the development and security of the Region and by extension the Country.
“Funds spent on development activities should as a consequence promote political and socio-economic stability in the Region.
“Citizens affected by these development projects should also exhibit the ability to contribute to the continuous progress of their immediate and wider communities by engaging in constructive activities that will sustain and supports these development projects.
“It is evident that considerable resources have been channeled by the Federal Government to the development of the Niger Delta from 2001 to 2019.
“It is therefore important for the Federal Government and the public to be properly informed of what has been spent and how that has been spent.
“The essence of the forensic audit is to ensure probity and accountability in the use of public funds.
“It is against this background that the Federal Government will without hesitation strategically implement all aspects of the audit exercise that will promote probity and greater prosperity for the Niger Delta Region and Nigeria as whole.
“The Federal Government is particularly concerned with the colossal loss occasioned by uncompleted and unverified development projects in the Niger Delta Region, in spite of the huge resources made available to uplift the living standard of the citizens.
“We have on record over 13,777 projects, the execution of which is substantially compromised.
“The Federal Government is also concerned with the multitudes of Niger Delta Development Commission’s bank accounts amounting to 362 and lack of proper reconciliation of accounts.
“The Federal Government will in consequence apply the law to remedy the deficiencies outlined in the audit report as appropriate.
“This will include but not limited to initiation of criminal investigations, prosecution, recovery of funds not properly utilized for the public purposes for which they were meant for review of the laws to reposition and restructure the NDDC for the efficiency of better service delivery amongst others.
“In all these instances of actions, legal due processes will strictly be complied with.
“The President has directed that the forensic audit report be forwarded to the Federal Ministry of Justice for a legal review and relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Government will be engaged in doing justice to the findings accordingly”.
Malami commended the Minister of Niger Delta, Akpabio, the Interim Administrator and Staff of the NDDC for their support towards the completion of the audit exercise.
He equally commended the Lead Forensic Auditors and the 16 Field Audit Firms for completing the exercise, as well as the Security Committee for securing the lives and properties of the Audit Firms throughout the duration of the forensic audit exercise.