As the Presidency beams its searchlight on how the Niger Delta Development Commission allowed individuals and companies to make away with N183.7 billion as advanced payments for contracts not yet executed, two top politicians in the National Assembly are being fingered as the arrowheads of the huge loss of public fund.
Top officials of the commission, who tried to explain what led to how the money was lost, blamed the two influential politicians in the NASS of using their positions to corner more than 50 percent of the contracts in the controversial commission.
A director in the commission, who spoke to Vanguard in confidence on Sunday, regretted that the two ‘powerful politicians’ used their membership of the National Assembly committee on the NDDC to influence the award of multi-million Naira contracts to themselves and their cronies.
The director pointed out that the two men-a Senator and a House of Representatives member, used the name of a former president and his wife to intimidate the management and board of the NDDC to award mouth-watering jobs to their companies, claiming to be acting on the instruction of the first family.
The official explained to Vanguard in an interview that the two men virtually relocated to the commission prior to the last election and dictated to the management which contract should be awarded to their cronies and what amount should be paid to them as mobilisation fees.
“The events in the commission in recent months were beyond the control of the Management and board of the NDDC. They were virtually forced to award huge contracts and pay for such even before they were carried put. That is the truth,” a top management staff of NDDC confessed.
“These men actively used their positions in the NASS and their claimed closeness to a former president and his wife to corner most of the jobs and we could not do much to resist them.
“The problem now is that it is the management and the board that have to bear responsibility for the activity of the politicians who have since gone under and pretending as if they know nothing about what they did concerning contract awards in the commission,” the source said.
Although it was not clear last night what President Muhammadu Buhari would do about the Auditor-General’s Report accusing NDDC of not accounting for the N184 billion it collected from the treasury, sources hinted that the Presidency was furious about the loss of huge loss of public funds to a few individuals.
A source close to the Presidency said last night that the President had been fully briefed by the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, OSGF, which supervises the NDDC even before the AGF came up with the huge amount being mismanaged at the commission and would soon react to the development in the interest of the people of the Niger Delta and Nigeria.
The source did not however give the nature of the action to be taken by the Federal Government about the development in the commission.
It was also learnt that the NDDC had begun some spirited moves to explain how the amount was ‘lost’ to contractors and what it was doing to recover the amount, since it was covered under an Advanced Payment Guaranty by banks.
The total contractual liability of the NDDC stands at N800 billion as at June this year.
The Managing Director of the NDDC, Mr. Dan Abia, could not be reached for comments on the issue as he was said to have travelled to Abuja for some meetings.
The spokesman for the NDDC, Mr. Ibitoye Abosede had distanced himself from the issue of contract-splitting in the commission running into billions of Naira, and declined to comment on it when contacted by Vanguard.