By Williams Anuku Abuja
The Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday, approved the sum of N722.3 million for eight field forensic auditors appointed to audit the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
But due to the recess which the National Assembly is currently observing, President Buhari has directed that the payment for the auditors be sourced directly from the Presidency, because the National Assembly was yet to pass the NDDC 2020 appropriation bill.
The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, briefed State House Correspondents about the latest development, alongside his counterparts, Information and Culture, and Water Resources, Lai Mohammed and Suleiman Adamu.
According to Akpabio, no fewer than 12,000 projects believed to have been abandoned will be examined by the auditors.
The Minister told reporters that his ministry presented a memorandum to the FEC for the appointment of eight forensic auditing firms to execute the forensic audit of states under the watch of the NDDC, noting that the memorandum was approved by FEC.
According to him, a lead forensic auditor had earlier in March been appointed and among the eight newly appointed firms is a foreign firm, Ernst and Young, which he said would be in charge at the headquarter offices of the NDDC in Port Harcourt, to take charge of programmes and activities.
“The Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs today presented a memo to the Federal Executive Council and at the end of the deliberations, the memo was approved. The memo is basically the appointment of Field Forensic Auditors to undertake the forensic auditing of the Niger Delta Development Commission and the Field Forensic Auditors are going to be designated to go through the states of the Niger Delta region.”
Akpabio explained that the delay in approving the forensic audit was due to the lack of budgetary provisions, he thanked President Buhari for approving for the Presidency to fund it, saying that it will be of immense benefits to the people of the region.
“By the time I assume office in August 2019, we discovered there was no budget for the NDDC for the year 2019 up to that September. So, we submitted two budgets in November to the National Assembly. And it took quite a while until in April. The budget details were given out to the NDDC in April, to end 31st of May, less than six weeks,” Akpabio said.
“So, there was a provision of N1.25 billion in the budget of 2019 for the forensic audit exercise. So, basically what delayed it was the absence of budget, not the absence of the will.
“Unfortunately, the National Assembly is right now on leave and the budget of NDDC for 2020 has not been passed. So, to enable us move forward with the exercise and complete it on time, Mr. President graciously directed and approved that the payment for the forensic exercise should be undertaken through the Presidency.”