On Thursday, Nigeria’s Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami disclosed gory details from the forensic audit of Nigeria’s oil-producing states commission.
The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has been embroiled in high level allegations of corruption, which prompted a forensic audit of the commission by the Nigerian government.
In its 20-year existence, the commission has not lived up to billing and hasn’t delivered on its primary purpose of establishment – the development of the Niger Delta region. The Attorney-General revealed that N6trn ($14.6bn )was spent in eighteen years with more than 13,000 projects compromised and the discovery of more than 300 accounts belonging to the commission.
“It is on record that between 2001 and 2019, the Federal Government has approved N3, 375, 735,776,794.93 Three Trillion, Three Hundred and Seventy Five Billion, Seven Hundred and Seventy Six Thousand, Seven Hundred and Ninety Four Naira, Ninety Three Kobo as budgetary allocation and N2,420,948,894,191.00 Two Trillion, Four Hundred and Twenty Billion, Nine Hundred and Forty Million, and, Eight Hundred and Ninety Four Thousand, One Hundred and Ninety One Naira as Income from Statutory and Non Statutory Sources, which brings the total figure to the sum of approximately Six Trillion Naira given to the Niger Delta Development Commission.”
He said the audit, which was presented at the Federal Executive Council meeting was conducted by 16 auditing companies.
Malami said 13,777 projects are yet to be executed by the NDDC despite substantial amounts allocated for their execution.
“The Federal Government is particularly concerned with the colossal loss occasioned by uncompleted and unverified development projects in the Niger Delta Region, in spite of the huge resources made available to uplift the living standard of the citizens. We have on record over 13,777 projects, the execution of which is substantially compromised. The Federal Government is also concerned with the multitudes of Niger Delta Development Commission’s bank accounts amounting to 362 and lack of proper reconciliation of accounts,”
The PIA, NDDC and Host Communities – Fingers Pointed, Fingers Crossed
The revelation of the audits is coming on he back of widespread criticisms of the 3% allocation to host communities in the new Petroleum Industry Act (PIA).
The PIA, which was passed in 2021, after more than twenty years of chops and additions, was greeted with excitement but reservations about the host communities’ share of oil proceeds have been vocal.
After calls for 10% allocation were rejected, many Niger Deltans had expected that 5% would be granted to host communities but were surprised to see that 3% was the final percentage granted. This has caused youths and activists in the region to call for a review of the percentage. The calls also became more frantic when it was revealed that 30% went to the frontier basins.
Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) explained that the 3% of Operating Expenses of oil companies is greater than the 30% of the profits of the NNPC but many Niger-Deltans have refused the claim, saying it’s not premised on sound analyses and realistic judgment.
With N6trn now revealed to have been pillaged by the NDDC in the past eighteen years, such calls may serve as pointers to the Nigerian government’s holdback on putting its ten fingers on the table for the region.
Funds had been held back from the NDDC for months now, with many locals calling for a forensic audit. Revelations of the audit point fingers to the leaders of the region, more than an unwillingness from the Nigerian government and it’s to be seen if heads will roll from the revelations made. Fingers crossed!
Oil Wells, Corruption And An Unwell Region
Nigeria’s Niger Delta is rich in crude oil and natural gas- enough to last the next thirty years. There are trillions of dollars of untapped oil in the region and the PIA is long considered the key to opening the doors of the greatness of the region.
Comprising nine mandate states including Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Imo, Ondo, and Rivers, the region has a population of locals struggling to enjoy the dividends of their natural abundance.
With oil spillage and gas flares as a result of the activities of international oil companies destroying local communities’ farmlands and rivers, and taking their source of livelihoods away from them, their only hope is in the commission established to give them some respite. For two decades, that respite hasn’t come, as locals fight diseases, climate change and hunger.
Displeased youths have taken up arms and have become militants, known to abduct expatriates and destroy oil pipelines. With billions of dollars allocated and nothing to show for in terms of development in the region, the oil wells and their managers have left the region unwell.
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