Minister of Niger Delta Affairs Senator Godswill Akpabio has set July ending for the conclusion of the forensic audit of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) ordered by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Akpabio, who spoke on the sideline of the inauguration of the commencement of the physical verification phase of the audit exercise at Ibom Icon Hotels and Golf Resort in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, said the audit involves the internal reforms of the NDDC.
He said the 16 field auditors selected for the field audit would begin to identify and verify the projects across the Niger Delta region.
Akpabio wondered why some people would be peddling rumours the forensic audit had derailed.
He said that these detractors falsely claimed the forensic audit was being used as a ploy to continue with the NDDC Interim Administration.
“It is the considered position of President Muhammadu Buhari that for us to have a properly constituted board for the NDDC, we should first take a look at what has happened to the Commission since inception.
“There was nothing our detractors have not done to stop the forensic audit and this has led some people to be left wondering if the forensic audit has been aborted,” he said.
The Minister observed budgetary delays affected the progress of the forensic exercise, prompting President Buhari to intervene to save the situation.
He said: “The President is resolute that he cannot leave the Niger Delta and the NDDC the way he met it. As a demonstration of this commitment, he is funding the forensic audit from the budget of the Presidency.”
The Minister said the security component of the audit exercise was very important because of the safety issues in the Niger Delta region, stating: “We decided to start the audit exercise from the NDDC headquarters, while security arrangements were being firmed up. The field visit is a critical next step, after which we go into the office to produce the reports.”
Akpabio stressed the physical verification was a very serious exercise because the results of the exercise may lead to the prosecution of the affected contractors, some of whom, he said, abandoned their contracts without completing them.