The Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, has refuted allegations that N40 billion was missing from its accounts, just as the agency published the list of all payments made by it between February 20 and May 5 this year.
Recall that the Senate had launched a probe into alleged missing N40 billion under the leadership of the Interim Management Committee, IMC.
The claim pitted the Commission and its supervising Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs against the Senate, resulting in series of allegations and counter-allegations from all sides.
However, a statement issued by the commission’s Director, Corporate Affairs, Charles Odili, the Commission, disclosed that the sum of N35.3 billion was disbursed to vendors and contractors between the periods under review.
According to the commission, the payment became necessary in order to alleviate the suffering of the vendors which, it argued, had a ripple effect on the Niger Delta region.
It further explained the action was in line with recent mandate handed to the Commission by President Muhammadu Buhari to change it former ways and act responsibly.
The statement read: “In a rare display of transparency, the NDDC presents details of the N35.3 billion paid to vendors and contractors between February 20 and May 5, 2020.
“The management of the Niger Delta Development Commission has been inundated by enquiries from stakeholders following allegations that the expanded Interim Management Committee (IMC) misappropriated N40 billion between February 20 2020 and May 5 2020.
“Although, most of our stakeholders are aware of the malevolent intentions of those making these allegations, we believe that we owe them a duty of transparency to present the true financial picture of payments by the Commission during the period.
“We are therefore taking the unusual steps of publishing all payments made by the Commission between February 20, when the expanded IMC came into office and May 5 when the allegations were made.
“The list covers the beneficiaries of the payments, the projects which they executed and for which the Commission had a contractual obligation to pay, the amount paid and the date and time of payments.
“The IMC has only paid out N35.3 billion to vendors and contractors within the period. The debts paid covered historical debts to vendors, some of whom had been owed between N1 million and N3 million for up to eight years.”
The statement further added that “the payments were intended to save lives and livelihood as well as alleviate the suffering in the region.
“Most of the vendors borrowed monies from banks to render services to the Commission. Some became very ill in hospitals.
“The mandate handed down to this IMC by Mr President through the Honorable Minister of Niger Delta Affairs is that the Commission must change from the ways of the past.
“Acting responsibly in honouring obligations is part of the changed ethos,” the statement said.