The Niger Delta Development Commission, or NDDC, was formed in 2000 with the goal of bringing measured, purposeful, and rapid development to the Niger Delta communities.
For two decades, the commission has failed to live up to the lofty goals for which it was established. It has remained largely a cash cow for those with access and leverage. And it has seen a lot of power struggles, which eventually led to a call for the commission to be forensically audited.
Buhari received the final audit report from the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, through the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami.
Mr. Godswill Akpabio stated that the commission awarded 13,777 contracts between 2001 and 2019. The contracts are valued at N 3,274,206,032,213.24.
The Niger Delta is made up of nine states: Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Imo, Ondo, and Rivers. The report's insight provided by Akpabio clearly shows that the NDDC has been a den of corruption, as there are no completed jobs to account for the volume of contracts awarded by the commission.
Regardless of how disproportionately distributed the contracts are between and within states, a portion of the 13,777 projects would be easy for Niger Deltans to identify with within their domain. It now makes sense that Prof. Daniel Pondei, the acting managing director, fainted during a House committee hearing in July 2020. Despite the fact that the professor later revealed that he was actually sick at the time, Nigerians have seen enough dramatization of people facing the law in corrupt cases to believe it.
On receiving the final audit report, Buhari promised to subject it to the applicable laws of the land. He also reaffirms his commitment to anti-corruption efforts by declaring that criminal investigations and prosecutions will be conducted against indicted individuals and entities.
If President Buhari follows through on his promise to pursue indicted individuals, the majority of those who corruptly enriched themselves from the NDDC are likely to be genuine Niger Delta citizens. Otherwise, the peace and quiet that has prevailed despite NDDC's shortcomings would not have been witnessed. We are mostly our own worst enemy.
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