Edgar Reacts To “NDDC Probe: Pondei, Others Collecting 30% Before Contractors Are Paid”

……Alleges desperation to scuttle the Forensic Audit, and renewal of media attacks on IMC

The Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) says its attention has been drawn to the above subject of a newspaper report credited to the Senate Ad-Hoc Committee which recently investigated the alleged financial malfeasance in NDDC.

The Ad-hoc Committee which had Senator Olubunmi Adetunmbi, All Progressives Congress, APC, Ekiti North as Chairman, had Senators Jika Dauda Haliru, APC Bauchi Central; Mohammed Tanko Almakura, APC Nasarawa South; Abdulfatai Buhari; APC Oyo North; Chukwuka Utazi, PDP, Enugu North, Ibrahim Hadeija, APC Jigawa North East and Degi – Eremienyo Biobarakuma Wangaha, APC Bayelsa East, had grilled the Prof. Daniel Pondei led IMC, in July, 2020, during which Prof. Pondei denied the above allegations and challenged anyone to come forward with evidence to wit.

The Ag. MD stated on oath, during the probe, that he has never requested or received kickbacks of any sort, from contractors. It is therefore surprising and disappointing the Senate Committee can be attributed with unproven allegations as their final report.

The IMC in a statement signed by Edgar Raymond Ebigoni SA on Media to the Acting MD NDDC and made available to newshounds expressed shock that “the Ad-Hoc committee chose to believe the naysayers who claimed that the NDDC headquarters was not nearing completion; a claim that the IMC denied. Whatever made the Senate Ad-Hoc sit in Abuja to accept a negative report rather than accept the challenge of the IMC to visit the headquarters themselves, for an unbiased assessment, is yet unknown.”

Also in the report, the Senate Ad-Hoc, in a bid to glorify the head of the immediate past IMC, credited the Forensic Audit to her, even when she testified negatively to the existence of the Forensic Audit. In any case, the admittance of the committee that the Forensic Audit is ongoing is a welcome development. We are glad that Mr. President is determined to see the Forensic Audit through, despite all odds.

Text of the statement reads: “We wish to notify Nigerians that the renewed media attacks on the IMC is part of the orchestrated plot by those mentioned in the emergency contract sleaze to get back at the IMC for daring to name and shame those who have held the Commission and the region hostage for years. The siege is finally broken.

We wish to state categorically that:

“The IMC is not distracted by spurious claims and accusations regarding its work.

“Neither the Ag. MD Prof Pondei nor any member of the IMC has sought or received any bribe or inducement or such for performing their duties.

“The Forensic Audit will actually unravel the issue of over invoicing and contract inflation, among other things. It will follow the money trail and expose those who shared such monies with the contractors.

“The IMC has been undertaking a painstaking evaluation of projects before approving any historical debt payment, no matter the level of documentary progress already recorded. Previous project valuations have been slashed and actual value of work done determined. Most emergency contractors are therefore no longer getting the humongous figures they had been promised by their co-conspirators within the Commission. The reduced payment is a saving for the Commission and the Niger Delta, not a payment for the persons in the IMC or the Commission.

“The IMC intends to steer the Commission away from questionable, low-impact projects, with quick-win projects not being excluded), into programmes of regional scale with emphasis on areas already identified in the Niger Delta Action Plan. The programmes will cascade into related projects that will mesh smoothly into a seamless whole on completion.

The IMC is looking at the environmental hazards of flooding, inter region transportation including rail transportation, port development, health, education and power sectors. The new NDDC will embark on programmes beyond individual state governments and intensify collaboration with other state players in the region.

“The IMC is irrevocably focused on delivering on its mandate to the entire people of the Niger Delta and not a select few from within and outside it. It enjoins all people of goodwill to partner with it to achieve this laudable objective.”