The multi-billion naira Magugate scandal at the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the unending contract scams cum spurious payments at the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) are all national disgrace for Nigeria, the organised labour has said.
While the suspended Acting Chairman of EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, will soon be facing trials on a multiple fraud charges, labour says revelations at the ongoing National Assembly probe of NDDC and the collapse of its Acting Managing Director are nothing but a national disgrace.
Apparently disturbed by alleged elastic corrupt activities going on at the ministries, agencies and parastatals in Nigeria under President Muhammadu Buhari’s watch, President of the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC), Quadri Olaleye, says labour will be taking serious action against government policies that fuel corruption in the country.
According to Olaleye, federal legislators allegedly award contracts to themselves ‘’receive payment upfront, but never move to site. How could all these happen in a region without potable water, good schools and road network?
‘’How could NDDC spend N122.9 million for condolences when there is no good hospital for the sick? Why should this happen in a region where governors are saying they do not have the financial strength to pay the new minimum wage?”
The obviously angry labour leader is charging President Buhari to ensure that current cases of corruption are not swept under the carpet, and that the culprits are dealt with as it is done in most climes.
At the weekend, Olaleye announced that the organised labour and its partners in civil society groups are mobilising for national protests this August against rising corruption in the country. “By the second week in August, we should be able to mobilise our people to move out to start that protest”, he says.
According to him, it is aimed at putting the Presidency and anti-corruption agencies on their toes to take immediate action that will stop other people from going into the act.
Olaleye lamented that anti-graft agencies in the country are not only embarrassingly silent, ‘’they are also being charged of corrupt practices’’, noting that if Nigerians continue to be complacent, but other public officials will also see it as an opportunity to further loot the country’s treasury.
However, on Friday in Abuja, President Buhari spoke for the first time on the allegations of corruption levelled against the leadership of EFCC and NDDC, observing that some appointees of the government in both his administration and the previous one abused public trust.
He expressed delight that some stolen assets are being recovered, sold and proceeds put into the Single Treasury Account (TSA), which is inaccessible to the corrupt persons involved.
On his feelings about EFCC and NDDC, President Buhari said, “there has been an abuse of trust by people trusted by the previous administration and this administration. A number of assets have been recovered and some money.
“But we have introduced TSA where all the monies are taken and I said assets should be sold and the money be put through TSA so that it can be identified at any level and I will see who will come after us and take it back again to those who misappropriated public funds.”
Adding, he said that is why his administration instituted the Justice Ayo Salami probe panel to handle the EFCC, stressing that all of such cases will be uncovered and firmly dealt with by the government.
The two chambers of the National Assembly are currently probing how NDDC’s Interim Management Committee (IMC) allegedly squandered close to N1.00 trillion in five months.
The Senate says it received fresh fraud allegations against the messy NDDC management, pointing out that the new financial infractions were not captured in the list of the allegation of the earlier N40 billion reckless spending which a whistle-blower brought against the Commission to the parliament recently.
The fresh probe, according to the Red Chamber of the National Assembly, will be handled by the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions.
Chairman of the panel, Senator Ayo Akinyelure, who confirmed the development, explains that the NDDC big boss, Kemebradikumo Pondei, will be summoned when the panel concludes its public hearing involving the United Bank for Africa Plc and the liquidators of the defunct NITEL/EMTEL, which will take place this coming Wednesday.
“There is a petition that has just been sent to my committee by the leadership of the Senate.
“I received it on Tuesday. It is about the alleged fraudulent practices of the acting Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission.
“I will take my time to study the petition. Our committee will invite him as soon as we conclude hearing on the case involving the UBA which is before our committee. We will invite the MD to come and explain to the whole world how he allegedly misappropriated billions of funds as the head of the agency”, Akinyelure says.
Continuing, he said the embattled NDDC chief will also answer questions about allegations of contract scam against some federal lawmakers. ‘’Pondei will also tell Nigerians about the details of the senators who allegedly took gratification and contracts from him.
“He must come and prove it beyond reasonable doubts. No senator awards contracts. We can only facilitate project allocation for our various constituencies. We don’t even know when the executive would advertise those projects.
“Our job is to ensure that the project is executed. If any Senator or House of Representatives member had gone to the NDDC management to take money or contract, we will ask the MD to expose such a person.
“The NDDC should stop blackmailing the entire Senate. We have 109 members in the Senate. We are celebrated Nigerians. We were millionaires before we came into the Senate. We had jobs. All the allegations against us are fallacy of the highest order”, the panel chairman says.
Chairman of the Senate Committee on Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi, is alleging that Pondei’s IMC was using taxpayers’ money to launder the image of Niger Delta Affairs Minister, Godswill Akpabio.
While wondering why Akpabio chose to blackmail federal lawmakers instead of checking the alleged daily reckless spending in NDDC despite its probe by the National Assembly, Nwaoboshi alleged that the Pondei IMC paid N39.4million to a media outfit, Messrs Clear Point Consultancy, to defend media attacks against Akpabio.
The senator also said the IMC was allegedly paying N51.8million every month as an allowance to Pondei while other members of the team were allegedly being paid N18million monthly. “The above revelations are just a tip of the mind-boggling and reckless payments running into billions of naira by the IMC members to themselves and expended with the approval of Akpabio”, the senator adds.
The Senate on Thursday called for the dissolution of the IMC and also asked the embattled IMC to refund an extra-budgetary expenditure amounting to N4.923 billion to NDDC accounts.
It took the decision after approving the recommendations of its ad hoc committee that was set up to unravel the alleged financial recklessness at NDDC between October 2019 and May 2020.
While Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, said the report will be submitted to President Buhari who, according to him, was “eagerly expecting it”, the Senate asked the Secretary to the Government of the Federation in the Presidency to take over the supervisory role of NDDC.