"> Op-ed: #COVID-419 Drama & Continous Corruption in #NDDC - Sahel Standard
November 24, 2020
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Op-ed: #COVID-419 Drama & Continous Corruption in #NDDC

Let me attempt to paraphrase a salient quote from Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th POTUS.

Patriotism means to stand by your country, not to stand with any public official, save to the degree in which the official stands by the country.

For us as civil society organizations, it is unpatriotic not to oppose public officials when they fail in their duties to the country. It is unpatriotic not to tell the truth, especially as it touches corruption, mis-governance and open rape of people’s trust.

The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has been in focus since April, obviously for the wrong reasons. The audacity for looting and dark tendencies has surged uncontrollably in recent days. This worrisome development calls for serious interrogation, investigation and immediate action.
The late Executive Director of Finance & Administration died in the early hours of Thursday, May 28th, 2020. Very early in the day, our organization, Act for Positive Transformation Initiative, had intercepted a sinister ploy to weave the unfortunate death around COVID-19. Some newspapers subtly reported this online. By 1pm, we were on a national television where we further warned actors to desist from such satanic plot. We also revealed, that the plan involved shutting down NDDC offices, forcing staff to go on isolation and eventually returned with COVID-19 positive status claims in the public. Gentlemen, all these have played out. We must act to prevent life as the end of the ploy may lead to more casualties.

To this end, we are calling for immediate investigations of the COVID-19 claims of NDDC officials. We call on National Center for Disease Control (NCDC), the Ministry of Health, the Presidential task Force on COVID-19 and all relevant agencies to immediately investigate NDDC claims and NCDC officials in Rivers State. We also appeal to, Mr Boss Mustapha, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation who doubles as the head of PTF on COVID-19 to compel NDDC to make available, names of officials they claim are positive. We kept tabs on the movement of some officials, we can indeed provide information on where some of them visited to help in contact tracing, besides their immediate communities and families will certainly be of help during investigation.

We submit that this whole ploy is meant to jeopardize the ongoing probe of the commission. Our curiosity is further heightened by the slow pace of work by the National Assembly. There must not be any political settlement on the wicked rape of the people’s resources. Till date, we are yet to receive any invite from the National Assembly despite our extensive work in exposing the ongoing corruption in the commission.

We want to duly and responsibly inform the National Assembly and relevant agencies that the amount under probe should be over #75 Billion Naira (SEVENTY FIVE BILLION NAIRA), not the touted 40 Billion Naira as the present Interim Management Committee, IMC, of the NDDC has expended over 80 Billion Naira in just four months. Aside from the wage bill, the rest must be subjected to forensic analysis.
The discoveries will amaze Nigerians. So many abuses of regulations.

How do you explain the payment of 13.6 Million Naira for “consultancy on the construction of infant Jesus”? The said payment went into a zenith bank account number 1014119683.

How do you justify Two Billion Naira ( N 2,000,000,000) on acclaimed media spending in just two months? How much has the Federal Government spent on media? A large part of these payments was meant to block us from the media. This is why we must appreciate the media houses who have refused to be compromised. You have a date with history in the battle against corruption in Nigeria.

From the numerous payments, you can conclude that the present IMC is only there to clear the money. 34 Million naira was paid into Zenith Bank account number 1012613187 for ‘consultancy on reputation management for NDDC’. Same company received into same account a sum of 536 Million Naira in one day for “campaign to save lives” in the Niger Delta. The payment was broken into 16 units to divert attention. We are sure you are aware of the 39 Million Naira paid on May 19th, for “consultancy on rebuttal”. Three days later, precisely, May 22nd, another 641 Million Naira was paid for media support. Towards the end of March, 2020, when businesses and countries were closing their doors, the same company was paid 34 Million Naira for ‘Niger Delta Development Forum in Washington DC, USA’ and another 32.9 Million Naira for ‘Summit on NDDC and Investment Opportunities in Dorchester, London’, same day.

On the 22nd day of April, 2020, Julius Dinga Nig Ltd, a mining company, was paid 98.3 Million Naira for “consultancy on provision of publicity on the effect of corona virus campaign”. The said sum was paid into Zenith account number 1016587299. A forensic analysis of NDDC accounts for 2020 will reveal heart rendering tales of corruption and disregard for financial regulations laws.

We wonder what the security and anti-corruption agencies are doing despite the documents we have released to the public.

It is also patriotic to note that comments from certain quarters that President Muhammadu Buhari appears to be supporting and rewarding corruption in NDDC hence the continuous looting of the people’s resources, deserves some attention by the government.

The 2020 first quarter statistics should start reorganizing our priorities. Our debt to revenue ratio was 99%, meaning 99% of our income went into debt servicing. Forget fund for capital projects in that scary situation, ask where salaries and other overhead cost came from. This is the time to block all loopholes. It is time to truly kill corruption else corruption will kill us. We cannot be borrowing for some people’s pleasure and greed. Nigeria must work. Niger Delta must work. The people must not be left in the present state of neglect. The President must act now.

Kolawole Johnson Mnipr is the Head, Directorate of Research, Strategy & Programmes Act for Positive Transformation Initiative

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