There is tension at the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, as the agency’s top officials arrive Abuja to meet with President Muhammadu Buhari, Wednesday over the missing N183.7 billion and other alleged scams rocking the commission.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, confirmed the scheduled meeting to PREMIUM TIMES.
“It is true that top officials of the NDDC will be meeting with the President tomorrow (Wednesday),” Mr. Shehu said.
“Although I can’t confirm the exact schedule of the meeting, I can say that it will take place in the afternoon at the Presidential Villa.”
However, a source at the commission who pleaded not to be named because she is not authorised to speak on the issue, said the Managing Director, Dan Abia, would lead the delegation to meet Mr. Buhari.
Other top officials of the commission to accompany Mr. Abia to the meeting include the Executive Director, Finance and Administration, Henry Ogiri and the Executive Director, Projects, Tuoyo Omatsuli, among others.
The source said the atmosphere at the commission’s headquarters in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, was tensed Tuesday following fears that President Buhari might wield the big stick on the leadership of the commission.
“The office was so tensed today because people are not sure what will happen after the President meets with the MD and some of our directors,” the source said.
“Since the news of huge financial scams broke out in the media, there has been an air of uncertainty in the office.
“Nobody is sure of what will happen tomorrow. Management has been fighting hard to stop the media from doing further damage to the already bad situation but it does not seem to work.”
She said the fate of some key officials of the commission hang on the balance and would be determined after the meeting with Mr. Buhari.
With spiraling debt totaling N1.5 trillion, the NDDC has been enmeshed in alleged multi-billion financial scams including the disappearance of a princely N187.3 billion from its accounts.
PREMIUM TIMES had reported on August 8 how two executive directors, Messrs Ogiri and Omatsuli, disbursed N3.8 billion to contractors, leaving the Mr. Abia in the dark.
It also reported on August 8 how, two weeks after the last board was inaugurated, the commission awarded a contract for intelligence gathering, management and mitigation in all the senatorial districts in the nine states within the region.
To circumvent the Public Procurement Act 2007, the contract was split into 30 lots and awarded to political gladiators and cronies of board members and top management staff.
A total of N2.7billion was doled out to 30 companies for the contracts, described as spurious by some insiders.
Again, last week, the Auditor General of the Federation, Samuel Ukara, indicted the commission for its inability to account for N183.7 billion which passed through it between 2008 and 2012.
Mr. Ukara urged the National Assembly to summon top officials of the commission account for the whereabouts of the funds
Reacting to the report which was laid before the Senate, Mr. Ogiri, accused Mr. Ukara of being hasty in making his report public even while the NDDC was still responding to the audit queries.
But the AGF has stood his grounds, maintaining that the NDDC refused to respond to repeated pleas by his office to respond to audit queries issued to it despite sustained reminders spanning over a year in each case.