It was like a script for Nollywood movie, only that it was terribly written and presented. The main character, Professor Kemebrandikumo Daniel Pondei who is the Acting Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), told the most incredible fairy tale Nigerians ever heard in defence of ridiculous spending by the Commission that was called to question by the National Assembly.
He explained to a stunned Senate Adhoc Committee penultimate week at the investigative hearing on why the NDDC spent N40b in three months without following due process out of which the amount of N3.14 billion was alleged to have been expended on Covid-19 intervention, that “it was the right thing to do.”
The professor, in an incredible display of arrogance, explained away the ridiculous expenditure by claiming that the spending of the N1.5 b on themselves is within their right. “After all we are the NDDC, we take care of ourselves before taking care of others.”
That part of the script, I am sure, was lifted from airlines security protocol which advises passengers to, in case of loss of cabin pressure, adults should wear their own mask first, before helping infants and others.
A simple analogy to make sense out of the Managing Director’s unbelievable tale is to likened the Commission to an aeroplane, which is the NDDC, the crew are the management and staff, while the people of the Niger Delta are the passengers.
The N1.5b distributed to management and staff represents oxygen masks deployed for the crew, even when there was no emergency and the cabin pressure was okay.
Below is the detail of how the N1.5 Covid-19 palliative for the Commission’s staff was allegedly distributed:
One staff received N10 million
Two staff recieved N7 million each
Three staff received N5 million each
148 staff received N3 million each
157 staff received N1.5 million each
497 staff received N1millon each
Cleaners and security got N600 million each
When you have a lactating flying cow, you can be rest assured that the crew will enjoy the milk the most.
The alleged scale of corruption that had been going on in the 20 year-old Niger Delta Development Commission is unmatched by any in the world. A jaw dropping N4 trillion was released to it during the period, but nothing tangible on ground to match the amount it recieved.
That dissying N4 trillion at the disposal of the NDDC is more than 30 years budget of many independent African countries. This leaves a big question mark on why institutions mandated to supervise the Commission have not done their job?
The Commission has for most part of its existence had a Minister at the helm. Then you have the nine Governors of the nine states that make up the constitutional geography of the area, then major community leaders that are stakeholders; like Edwin Clark, former presidents, Governors, senators and etc – all should have have kept their eyes on the activities of the NDDC with a view to putting pressure on it to perform.
The truth is, the Niger Delta area should have been economically sound after 20 years and wearing similar look to those of Malaysia, Dubai or Qatar. Sadly, the more allocation of funds made available to it, the less impact is seen.
This is not forgetting the fact that the nine states in the Niger Delta also get 13% from the direvation funds formula. In 2019 for example, they recieved about N303 billion, a significant amount that should have made impact, if judiciously utilised.
Nearly double of this amount was released to the Niger Delta states annually in previous years when oil was sold at over $100 per barrel. Yet, no visible impact and nobody is asking questions.
The recent outburst by the former acting Managing Director of the Commission, Ms. Joy Ninueh, only slightly highlighted the situation at the Commission. Nigerians should ignore the Harvey Weinstein part of her story and focus on the substance.
May be by the time that the investigation against Magu and his Directors are over, the EFCC can return with a big bang and do a thorough job at the NDDC. That is the intervention that the people of the Niger Delta need. They have been had for too long as only a few privileged milk the cow.