In a declaration that seemed to vindicate President Muhammadu Buhari’s call for a forensic audit of the accounts of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) when the leaders of the region visited him in the Presidential Villa recently, the Acting Managing Director of the commission, Dr. Gbene Joi Nunieh, was reported as revealing in an interview with journalists in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, that a certain consultant was being paid N1 billion monthly just for collecting money from international oil companies (IOCs) on behalf of the commission.
The furious Acting MD was also quoted as saying that the commission had suspended the monthly payment to the consultant, saying that it does not need an intermediary to receive the statutory payments due to it from the IOCs.
“We have a consulting firm engaged as a collection agent. We have another company that also collects 3 per cent whenever money is paid by the International Oil Companies. We don’t need a middle man to collect 3 per cent for gas. The money should just be paid into NDDC accounts with the CBN,” Nunieh said.
Some weeks ago, a colleague of Nunieh in the interim management had accused an unnamed senator of getting over 80 contracts, many of which were not executed.
Sentry gathered that Nunieh’s move is pleasing to President Buhari, who sees it as an indication that she knows what needs to be done to rid the agency of the rot that has bedeviled it for years and made nonsense of all the funds the Federal Government has pumped into it.
But there also lies President Buhari’s dilemma. The interim board that has Nunieh as Acting MD was put in place by Senator Godswill Akpabio in his capacity as the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs while the President has appointed a board which the Senate has cleared and is asking the President to swear in to take charge of the Commission’s affairs.
Akpabio, on his part, wants his interim appointees to continue and is believed to be enjoying the support of some Niger Delta governors and influential members of the President’s kitchen cabinet.
The President is now left to choose between going with Akpabio by retaining the Interim Management Committee and going with the Senate by swearing in the board appointed by it.