Going through the social media and it’s conventional media counterparts, one is alarmed at the level of distorted facts and misrepresentation of facts as it concerns the on-going probe of the NDDC by the Senate. In most cases, sections of the public have become gullible of the outright mischief. This is why it has become imperative to dispassionately look at the true position of the issues in order to set the records straight before falsehood becomes accepted as truth. On Thursday the 9th of July 2020, the Acting Managing Director of NDDC, Prof Kemebradikum Pondei and members of his interim management committee appeared before the Senate Ad-hoc committee, to explain the true state of affairs of the finances of the agency particularly issues bothering on the expenditures incurred within the time under review.
The M.D who is known for his track record of public service who had nothing to hide gave detail account of how the 1.5billion naira Covid 19 relief funds were disbursed. While responding to questions from the lawmakers, he explained that part of the money was used in catering for the youths of Niger Delta following their persistent demands over what they described as the excruciating hardship they were going through arising from the lockdown. Youth groups in each senatorial district were given 5 million naira each, women groups 5 million as well as people living with disabilities who also got 5 million naira as palliatives. This is in addition to food items worth millions of naira distributed to various groups. Some of which some of us personally monitored and witnessed the session .
We were therefore amazed at the media reports distorting what actually transpired. Some of those who are star witnesses to the engagement can attest to this as we practically saw the distribution of the palliatives to the youth groups across the Niger Delta who came in their large numbers to take delivery of their palliatives for onward distribution to their constituents. All these were done to ameliorate the sufferings of the people of Niger Delta as a result of the scourging pandemic. We are all aware of the grave effect the Covid-19 pandemic occasioned by the lockdown on our people. Rather than commending the initiative of the Prof Pondei-led Management of the intervention agency they are being vilified to achieve political vendetta because of their stance in correcting the wrongs of the past .
Furthermore, the M.D, Prof Pondei explained with serious concern that on assumption of office the commission was owing debts ranging from hotel bills and electricity bills to the tune of 26 million naira, which was quickly offset by interim management. The issue of security came top, as the police got over 472million naira as intervention fund being a request made by the Police high command to handle all security concerns about the region. The Commission which knows full well the importance of security in the volatile oil rich region approved the request after a careful consideration by the Interim Management Committee ( IMC), and was accordingly shared among the nine states covered by the NDDC.
Definitely there is no disputing the fact that the issue of security is top on the agenda of the Commission and indeed a serious business that no serious or responsible management will treat it lightly. The Senate committee was also briefed that part of the monies were spent to provide palliatives for staffers of the Commission which was important to cushion the effect of the hardship resulting from the ravaging Covid-19 pandemic. Notably, the CBN and Accountant General’s Office confirmed that the IMC spent over 59.1billion between 19th February and 31st May 2020, while 38.6billion was used for the payment of contractors. The bulk of the payments had since been published in national newspapers. It is unfortunate that, the social media and sections of conventional media did not do justice to it with their professional skills of investigative journalism to ascertain these facts . They would rather dwell on misinformation while the facts on the accounting sheet which clearly shows that no 40billion was missing as alleged which informed reasons for the public hearing.
It is unfortunate that the media has deliberately diverted its searchlight to allowances, mostly Covid-19 related issues bothering on the welfare of the people of Niger Delta, just because of the calculated intention to mislead the public because somebody somewhere intends to give a dog a bad name just out of the desperate mission to hang it at all cost. This is rather pathetic to say the least. This is where it becomes necessary for the media to cross check facts in discharging its onerously solemn constitutional duty of educating and informing the public. It is pertinent to draw the media attention that it will do the public lot of good if they can conduct their duty professionally making it abundantly clear over the trending insinuations and wrong misinformation making the rounds that the IMC under Prof Pondei squandered over 40 billion naira.
Interestingly, the IMC under Prof Pondei, since assumption of office have demonstrated transparency and accountability in their conduct .The M.D. and his team have never hidden their intentions in their avowed zero tolerance for corruption and to reorganize the Commission for efficiency. The issue of misappropriation of funds and financial profligacy leveled against the Committee is neither here nor there, as the records of her financial dealings are sacrosanct, kept for scrutiny and verifiable purposes.
– Ouserigha, writes from Port Harcourt