The Federal Executive Council (FEC) on Wednesday approved N722.3 million for the eight field forensic auditors appointed to audit the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
The council presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari also approved the payment for the auditors be sourced directly from the Presidency as the National Assembly is yet to pass the NDDC 2020 appropriation bill before proceeding on annual vacation.
The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, who briefed State House correspondents alongside his counterparts, Information and Culture, and Water Resources, Lai Mohammed and Suleiman Adamu, explained that the auditors would audit 12,000 abandoned projects.
He said his ministry presented a memorandum to the FEC for the appointment of eight forensic auditing firms to execute the forensic audit of states under the watch of the NDDC.
According to him, a lead forensic auditor had earlier in March been appointed and among the eight newly appointed firms is a foreign firm, Ernst and Young, which he said would be in charge at the headquarter offices of the NDDC in Port Harcourt, to take charge of programmes and activities.
“The Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs today presented a memo to the Federal Executive Council and at the end of the deliberations, the memo was approved.
“The memo is basically the appointment of Field Forensic Auditors to undertake the forensic auditing of the Niger Delta Development Commission and the Field Forensic Auditors are going to be designated to go through the states of the Niger Delta region.
“By the time I assume office in August 2019, we discovered there was no budget for the NDDC for the year 2019 up to that September. So, we submitted two budgets in November to the National Assembly. And it took quite a while until in April. The budget details were given out to the NDDC in April, to end 31st of May, less than six weeks.
“So, there was a provision of N1.25 billion in the budget of 2019 for the forensic audit exercise. So, basically what delayed it what the absence of budget, not the absence of the will.
“Unfortunately, the National Assembly is right now on leave and the budget of NDDC for 2020 has not been passed. So, to enable us move forward with the exercise and complete it on time, Mr. President graciously directed and approved that the payment for the forensic exercise should be undertaken through the Presidency,” Akpabio said.
He said the field audit would be completed in the next one or two weeks to conclude forensic audit procurement by bringing in a further seven to eight of them because of the number of years, 19 years and that will conclude it.
“Earlier, Mr. President had last year approved an estimated amount of N2.5 billion. So everything that we are spending now will come from that estimated sum.
“Initially, it should have come from the budget of the NDDC but because of the delay and the inability to pass the 2020 budget, the entirety of the amount that will be spent will come from the budget of the presidency.”
On other projects, the council also approved a N101 million augmentation for the ongoing Ogbese Dam Project in Ekiti State.
Minister of Water Resources, Adamu explained: “I presented a memo requesting the council to approve the revised estimated total cost of consultancy services for the ongoing Ogbese Dam Project in Ekiti State.
“This project is one of the 116 projects that we inherited. It was started in 2009 and it is one of the projects we prioritized for completion since we conducted an audit of all the ongoing projects in 2016. We have been working on it steadily.
“With the original contract period having expired and having also received approval from RETC for the actual construction of the project’s main work, it was important that we also extend the services of the project’s consultant so that there will be continued and uninterrupted effective supervision of the project.
“So, we got an augmentation of about N101 million and an extension of 24 months in favour of the consultant, Messrs. Geomatics Nig. Ltd. The council approved this memo.”