The 2019 budget defence of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) by the agency’s Interim Management Committee (IMC) has suffered a setback.
This comes as the acting Managing Director of the NDDC, Professor Kemebradikumo Pondei, led the agency’s Executive Director (Project), Dr Cairo Ojougboh, and other top officials to the National Assembly in Abuja to defend the agency’s budget for the previous year.
The NDDC team appeared before members of the Joint Senate and House of Representatives Committees on Niger Delta on Tuesday.
However, they could not successfully defend the agency’s budget as the lawmakers pointed out some discrepancies in the budget.
According to documents presented by Professor Pondei, the NDDC received N305.5 billion for 2019 and spent a total of N122 billion.
While the commission is expected to bring a balance of N183.2 billion forward in the 2020 budget proposal, the report submitted to the lawmakers showed N40 billion.
Thereafter, Chairman of the House Committee on Niger Delta, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, queried Professor Pondei on the discrepancies in the 2019 budget report of the commission.
In his response, the NDDC boss quickly requested the withdrawal of 2019 budget details in order to address the issue of discrepancies of N143 billion raised by the lawmakers.
This got the members of the joint committee but the Chairman of Senate Committee on NDDC, Senator Peter Nwaboshi, yielded to the request.
The budget presentation was later adjourned until Tuesday next week.
The NDDC team appeared before the lawmaker four days after the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, asked the National Assembly to check against abuses of the budgeting procedures of the agency.
Akpabio had made the request on Friday last week at the continuation of the Senate’s investigative hearing into allegations of financial recklessness by the IMC of the NDDC.
At the previous session, investigation revealed that the commission spent N81 billion between October 29, 2019, and May 31, 2020, an expenditure which was confusing to members of the Senate ad-hoc committee.
The minister said there were instances where monies budgeted had been drastically and illegally reduced by some members of the National Assembly against the originally approved fund.
But the immediate past Managing Director of NDDC, Dr Joy Nunieh, said N8 billion was spent by the IMC under her leadership between October 29, 2019, and February 28, 2020, out of the N81 billion spent by the agency within the period under review.
Professor Pondei, who was also at the session, threatened to resign if the allegations of corruptions levelled against the IMC under his leadership were proven.