… NDDC staff arrested by FIRS
… FG owes NDDC over N1.8 trillion
By Ariye Reuben
There are clear indications that the recent seal-up of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) offices in Port Harcourt by the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) may be linked to powerful forces who do not want the forensic audit report to see the light of day.
Highly placed sources in the Commission said the action “is part of a long running campaign to bring NDDC to its knees, unless the wish of these powerful forces to change the leadership of the Commission is heeded.
This is the second time the NDDC offices in Niger Delta are being sealed within the past six weeks. Our correspondent was informed that “in the past two years, there has been a long-running battle for the control of the soul and finances of this intervention Agency, in spite of efforts by Federal Government to clean-up the Agency to be able to deliver on its mandate to develop the Niger Delta region.”
Sources within the Commission claim that the FIRS did not give the agency prior notice of their action and were reported to have arrested staff of NDDC who demanded to know why the FIRS operatives were sealing up the Commission’s premises.
“This action by the Federal Inland Revenue Service is intended to cripple the Commission, at a time when the forensic audit is being concluded and the final report prepared,” one of the sources complained, adding: “The timing is very suspicious.”
He continued: “We have been under siege for a while now. The efforts by the Federal Government to root out corruption in this place and ensure that we can serve the people of the Niger Delta diligently are been frustrated by powerful forces. They are using all forms of tactics to cripple our operations, in order to control the Commission for political purposes. Nigerians need to know the truth.”
A source in FIRS stated that the NDDC is owing the service about twenty six billion Naira and that has necessitated their action.
However, another source in the Commission stated that this figure is from over eighteen years. He said: “The failure of the Commission to meet its obligations in all areas is one of the reasons why President Muhammadu Buhari ordered the forensic audit in the first place. This is part of the rot Buhari is fighting against, and the report of the forensic audit will help the Commission stand strong, to deliver on its mandate.
“In the past 20 years, the Federal Government’s indebtedness to NDDC has risen to over 1.8tr Naira. We have not gone to challenge the Government the way this people have come to seal-up our offices. This money they are claiming was not run-up by this administration in NDDC, but accumulated over 18 years. In the past two years, monies owed to NDDC have been mostly withheld by the Government. Let me also inform you that the statutory contribution from the oil industry has not been received since this year.
“How do we operate in the circumstances? NDDC is under siege and this is part of a continued campaign to either cripple it or take it over by these powerful forces,” he said.
NDDC Boss, a Promise Keeper, says UNIUYO VC
The Vice Chancellor of the University of Uyo, Professor Nyakudo Ndaeyo, has described the Interim Administrator/CEO of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Mr. Efiong Okon Akwa, as a promise keeper for ensuring that the long-abandoned 1000-bed NDDC hostel would soon be completed.
Professor Ndaeyo made this declaration when Mr. Akwa paid him a courtesy visit at UNIUYO Senate Chambers, as part of an inspection of the hostel project in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State capital.
The Vice Chancellor disclosed that he had extracted the promise from the NDDC boss to complete the project shortly after his appointment as Head of the interventionist agency.
Professor Ndaeyo thanked the NDDC for assisting the university to ease the pressure of accommodation, stressing the need to provide the university’s undergraduates with a conducive learning and living environment in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mr. Akwa, who was accompanied by the state director of the Commission, Mr. Obot Udoette, and directors of the Commission, stated that the hostel, sited at the permanent site of the University, will be completed and commissioned next month.
He said that the NDDC’s commitment to the completion of the students’ hostel project was a result of a directive from President Muhammadu Buhari to the Commission to ensure the completion of all its projects in the Niger Delta region.
He said: “The 1,000 bed students’ hostel being built will be a first of its kind in the region. It will have 500 bed spaces for male undergraduates and 500 bed spaces for female undergraduates and will include recreational spaces as well.”
He stated that the university was playing a very important role in the economy and lives of the people of Akwa Ibom State and the South-South region.
The NDDC boss observed that in an era of Covid-19 pandemic, it was necessary to assist universities to properly accommodate students in order to ensure adequate provision for social distancing in the hostels.
Speaking after inspecting the hostel project, the NDDC boss assured that the Commission would assist universities in the region to ensure that their students undertake their studies in comfortable and safe environment.
Akwa expressed delight that the project had reached 95 per cent completion, with only external works and landscaping still being worked on.
He added: “We need to pull out our students from the surrounding villages where they currently reside and host them in a conducive environment fit for learning.”
Fara Dagogo’s bill seeking 13% derivation to be paid directly to host communities bill first reading
A bill seeking to alter the Constitution of the country to pay the 13% derivation fund directly to oil producing host communities has passed first reading on the floor of the House of Representatives.
If passed into law, the 13% derivation fund will be paid directly to the host communities of each benefiting states through the Host Communities Development Commissions.
Sponsor of the bill, Hon. Doctor Farah, Member representing Degema/ Bonny Federal Constituency from Rivers State, said the bill ‘Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (Amendment) Bill, 2021 (HB. 1570)’, is intended to address and correct the injustices the oil producing communities have been experiencing.
In demonstrating its seriousness, a section of the bill recommended that ‘ failure of any state to establish the Host Communities Development Commission shall be deemed as an offence and such a state shall forfeit 30% of her monthly benefit from the 13% derivation fund till such a time that the Commission is established’
Before the presentation of the bill, the Federal Lawmaker had accused the Governors of the Niger Delta states, of wasting N10 trillion from the derivation fund over the years
“This is a very sad commentary as it relates to the oil-producing communities of the Niger Delta. The 13 per cent Derivation is the fund set aside to assist oil-producing communities to tackle infrastructural decay and degradation, emphasis on the oil-producing communities. What it means basically is that in sharing the federation account revenue, 13 per cent should be set aside to assist the development of these oil-producing communities.
” About two decades down the line what is there to show for the humongous monies that have come in? The Governors, past and present, view it as free monies”, he said.
“Between 2000 and 2018, over N10trillion from the 13 per cent derivation principle, have been shared to the Niger Delta Governors, on behalf of the oil-producing communities, yet the deplorable living conditions of the people from these oil-producing communities have remained nauseating and deplorable with the people battling and still reeking with the worst and highest form of poverty, “he noted.
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