The Huge Corruption Called Niger Delta Development Commission

The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) was established in 2000 by the NDDC Act. The Act repealed the Oil Mineral Producing Areas Commission Decree 1998 and established the NDDC with a reorganized administrative structure for increased effectiveness. The commission was created largely as a response to the demands of the people of the Niger Delta who have continued to agitate and articulate demands for greater autonomy and control of the region’s petroleum resources.

The commission has a core function among other things to implement projects and programmes for sustainable development of the Niger Delta areas. To achieve its mandate, the NDDC manages a 15% of the total statutory allocation from the Federal government share of Federation Revenue due to member states of the commission.

It also manages the 3% contribution of total annual budget from Oil producing companies. These make up the Mineral Revenue (MR) component of its receipts.

The commission is also supposed to receive 50% of monies due to member states of the Commission from the Ecological Funds.

There is also a Non-Mineral Revenue (NMR) component of its income but which on the average consists of less than 10% of its total receipts. On the average, more than 90% of its statutory receipts come from MR.

According to the Nigerian Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (NEITI), Fiscal Allocation and Statutory Disbursement (FASD), Audit Summary report – 2007-2011, the NDDC received a total of NGN 594 Billion during the period of 2007 – 2011.

This huge amount is supposed to have made a huge transformation in the infrastructural landscape of the Niger Delta communities if appropriately and judiciously utilized.  This did not happen, but according to the report what obtained was a season of project abandonment and duplication.

Twenty-two projects were duplicated in the project’s schedule with a total contract sum of N1.18 billion, with mobilization payments of N370.70 million. It highlighted that most of the projects were neither identifiable nor scheduled for monitoring and proper management.

The report also observed that substantial work has not been carried out in a significant number of projects even though mobilization has been paid. For instance projects with a total contract sum of NGN284.884 billion and mobilization or advance payment of NGN63.558 Billion made were not certified for any work done through the established milestones. Due to lack of proper monitoring and control, most of these development projects were abandoned by contractors.

This lack of accountability and transparency is mirrored in the failure of the Commission to timely prepare its audited financial statements. As at 2013 when the NEITI FASD summary report was published, there were no audited financial statements for the years of 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012.

Though the present Board has tried to improve things by clearing the backlog of nonaudited financial accounts, a lot still needs to be done. As at the time of the publication of the 3rd quarter 2016 NDDC report, the 2015 audited report was still not completed.

This is not only a contravention of the Law (which stipulates June for the publication of the audited account of the preceding year), but it also significantly reduces the management decision value of the audited accounts when eventually published.

As at September 2016, out of a total 8,558 projects awarded, 2,290 (26.6%) is still ongoing, 3,530 (41.2%) has been completed, 2,366(27.6%) are yet to mobilize to the site while 293 (3.4%) have been abandoned. Some of the abandoned projects include two multi-million naira rice processing plants, at Elele Alimini, Rivers State, and Mbiabet-Ikpe, in Akwa Ibom State with a combined capacity of 210 metric tons per day.

The construction of both mills was completed in 2008, and test-run in 2009, they, however, could not function due to the absence of rice paddy. As a result of this, the two plants have been allowed to rot away and have suffered depreciation over the years.

In Akwa Ibom State, government officials indicate that over 300 NDDC projects in the state are abandoned and include 121 roads; 75 uncompleted classroom blocks; 69 rural water scheme, and 43 mini electrification projects. In Obodoukwu Community, Ideato North Local Council, Imo State, a N245m road project awarded in 2015 by the NDDC is one of the projects that have been abandoned. The NDDC has since inception embarked on 1,614 projects in Delta State. The projects are valued at N366b. Only about 803 of them have so far been completed while the rest are uncompleted or abandoned.

These anomalies occurred and perpetrators were able to get away with it due to very poor policy and corporate governance structure. According to the 3rd quarter 2016 NDDC report, the enabling Act that set up the Commission empowers the Governing Board to formulate policies to guide the operations of the Commission.

The first Governing Board developed Authorization and Job Description Manuals, which were approved for implementation by the first and second Boards. However, a record has it that the third and fourth Boards operated with little recourse to the said documents. This resulted in policy lapses of Poor leadership style, non-alignment of the activities of the Commission to the Niger Delta Regional Development Master Plan, poor Budgeting Processes and weak ability to initiate and handle partnerships and collaborations.

This plethora of abandoned and nonperforming projects has made some observers to see NDDC as an agency set up as a conduit pipe to loot money for politics, reward failed politicians and supporters of political parties, funded with oil and gas money.

For the NDDC to achieve its mandate, conscious efforts need to be made to insulate it from partisan politics so as to dispel the widely held view that the NDDC has become a comfort zone, where political actors and their cronies help themselves to unmerited cash. The governance systems in NDDC have to be reformed in line with best international standards of a development interventionist agency so that politicians will not easily operate it as a cash cow for pecuniary interests.

Ayoka Anthony O. (08035428236)

Programme Director, Habitatcare and Protection Initiative