The Federal Executive Council on Wednesday approved the payment of N722.3m to eight field forensic auditors engaged to audit 12,000 projects embarked upon by the Niger Delta Development Commission in states.
While the names of the remaining auditors were not given, Ernst and Young was named as the firm that would be in charge of programmes and activities at the headquarters of the commission in Port Harcourt and help set up modalities to avoid future fraud.
The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, disclosed these to State House correspondents at the end of a meeting of the council presided over by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).
Akpabio was joined at the post-FEC meeting press conference by the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed; and the Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu.
Activities of the NDDC have been subjects of investigation by the National Assembly lately, especially as they concerned payments for projects that were abandoned by contractors.
Akpabio said the auditors, to be paid directly from the Presidency, would examine 12,000 abandoned projects scattered across all the Niger Delta states.
He said the eight auditors would be joining the lead forensic auditor appointed in March.
Akpabio said, “There was a provision of N1.25bn in the budget of 2019 for the forensic audit. What delayed it was the absence of budget, not the absence of the will.
“Unfortunately, the National Assembly is now on leave and the budget of NDDC for 2020 has not been passed.
“So, to enable us to move forward with the exercise and complete it on time, Mr President graciously directed and approved that the payment for the forensic exercise should be undertaken through the Presidency.”
He added, “So, the first amount that was approved for the lead forensic auditors was about N318m and then for this batch of eight field auditors, N722.3m.
“We expect to complete the field audit in the next one or two weeks to conclude forensic audit procurement by bringing in a further seven to eight of them because of the number of years, 19 years.”
The minister said the exercise was being conducted to address misappropriation, bribery, corruption, fraud or any other thing that could have militated against the success of the agency in the last 19 years.
Adamu, on his part, said the council approved a N101m augmentation for the consultancy services for the ongoing Ogbese Dam Project in Ekiti State.
He described the project as one of the 116 projects inherited by the present regime.
Earlier, the President had inaugurated 12 new permanent secretaries for the federal civil service.
The new permanent secretaries were appointed in June.
The President also inaugurated commissioners for Federal Civil Service Commission, Idahagbon Henry and Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission, Usman Hassan.