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NDDC fails to explain N143b budget shortfalls

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THE National Assembly Joint Committee on Niger Delta Affairs has adjourned its ongoing probe of alleged corruptions in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to Tuesday, July 21.

  The adjournment came after the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of NDDC failed to account for N143 billion shortfalls in NDDC’s 2019 budget.

Some of the NNDC IMC members were led to the National Assembly committee by Professor Kemebradikumo Pondei.

Although Pondei, in his defense of the 2019 budget of the NDDC,  told legislators that the commission got N305.5 billion as revenue in 2019 and spent N122 billion, a balance of N183.2 billion was still left.

“In compliance with the provision of the 2019 Appropriation Act, we implemented the 2019 capital budget till May 31st, 2020. On the expenditure side, 2019 budget implementation was hindered by the delay in its approval and release coupled with the COVID-19 global pandemic. Only the recurrent expenditure which runs from January 1st to December 31st, 2019 was implemented substantially,” he said.

But while noting a discrepancy in Pondei’s account, Chairman of House of Representatives Committee on NDDC, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, demanded that he should clarify why only N40 billion out of the N183.2 billion balance was brought forward in the submission of the agency before the panel despite outstanding difference of N143 billion.

Other members of the committee agreed that there was a discrepancy in the budget.

There was, however, a mild drama as Pondei struggled to clarify the discrepancies.

After his efforts were not able to give clarity to the issue, Pondei asked that he should be allowed to withdraw the 2019 budget details to enable the NDDC address the N143 billion discrepancies pointed out by the panel.

His request was accepted by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi.

The probe was thereafter adjourned to July 21.

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