… Wants President Buhari to initiate investigation
By Audrey Lotechukwu
MON, JULY 13 2020-theG&BJournal– ‘’There is no Forensic Audit going on now at the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC),’’ says Joi Nunieh, ex- acting Managing Director of the Commission, ‘’and I am going to back this statement up with documents,’’ she adds.
This jaw-dropping and shocking revelation monitored by theG&BJournal, was dropped today during her interview on the Arise News television morning programme, and in response to the allegation by Akpabio that Nunieh does not have a National Youth Service Certificate (NYSC) as required by law.
The weighty statement underscores the deep rooted corruption and stealing that have pervaded the NDDC since the inception of the federal government agency in 2000 by ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo.
It also highlights the discrepancies between the statement of the President Muhammadu Buhari on corruption and the outcome as well as the actions of those he has chosen to help in the fight against the scourge that is costing the country at least 60 kobo on every 100 kobo generated as federal revenue.
Shortly after President Buhari approved a forensic audit of the cesspool (NDDC), the Minister of Niger Delta, Godswill Akpabio announced in February 2020 that the President has also approved the sum of N318 million for the audit and Messrs Olumuyiwa Bashiru and Co has been appointed as lead consultant for the audit.
Joi Nunieh’s expose today not only cast a shadow on the procurement process of the lead consultant and the source of the money approved but revealed possible lies about the audit of the Commission.
‘’The President must investigate this,” she said.
”Is there a forensic audit going on? Where are they carrying out that forensic audit? Where is the funding from? And for the due process certificates that has been given, I stand here to say that no approval has been made for the forensic audit,’’ she said bluntly, insisting that the money that has been paid to the lead consultant is misappropriation. I think he should immediately return the money.’’
According to her, the President should allow the NDDC Board that have been appointed and cleared to come to oversee the audit process. And Akpabio should be sent back to the SGF office.
‘’I pray that the President should appoint people who are really committed and who do not have political ambitions. When you have Ministers that are planning to contest election, their minds will be focused on how to loot enough money for elections.’’
Nunieh’s claims detailed the inconsistencies in the procurement process of the lead consultant that Akpabio claimed to have hired starting with the claim made by Akpabio that she refused to conduct any verification exercise of the Commission.
For her, that was the only memo that refers to the forensic audit of the Commission.
‘’All contractors and all Nigerians will bear me out that there was a verification exercise in all the States. The paper that they presented to the lead consultant was the document and the DSS report from the verification exercise that I did. That is the last thing that happened about forensic.’’
She also alluded to complicity by the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) in the strange procurement process and referred to an application made to the BPP which she described as ‘’so embarrassing’’ asking for a Due Process-Certificate-Of-No-Objection for the award of contract for the procurement of the lead consultant.
According to her, the source for funding of that contract was to come from the 2020 budget.
‘’But today, the NDDC has no budget. That means that there is no source of funding. I presented the 2019 Budget which was passed and has lapsed. The 2020 Budget has not even been discussed and has not even been passed. It is a criminal act under the Public Procurement Act, which says that no procurement should be approved (anticipatory budgeting) when the National Assembly has not appropriated funds for it.’’
‘’The Certificate of no objection is the most important part of a forensic audit,’’ she explained, ‘’It states where the funding for procurement will come from. You cannot have a forensic audit if you do not have a forensic auditor. The forensic audit asked for a lead consultant. The lead consultant has not been officially procured.’’
‘’And I am worried that Cairo Odjougbo said yesterday that the lead consultant has already been paid. How did the lead consultant get paid when the budget has not been passed?
‘’For the second certificate-of-no-objection for the procurement of project vehicles, instead of stating under what budget, the BPP gave a certificate-of-no-objection saying the source of funding is from the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR). NDDC is not an internally revenue generating commission. Even if they sell their things it must be based on a budget.’’
She equally revealed that there are renowned international auditors that are already doing the forensic audit and that the nine forensic auditors which Akpabio said have been procured have not been procured.
‘’Those nine companies are not international. Those nine companies, the President will need to check them out. None of them have carried out a forensic audit before,’’ she alleges.
On why there should be more than one auditing firm.
I think we should have different auditing firms instead of one auditing firm because there are nine states to be audited. We have the legal auditing, the personal auditing- it is not just the money. We needed reputable firms to be involved in it. I particularly wanted the World Bank to be involved in the process and I also want the President to establish the National Procurement Council as written in the Procurement Act. Any other approval on procurement is an illegality.