Budget padding allegation: House of Reps accuse NDDC of deceiving Nigerians

Budget padding allegation: House of Reps accuse NDDC of deceiving Nigerians

- The last is yet to be heard on the rift between the House of Representatives and the NDDC

- The House of Representatives has responded to allegations levelled against it by the commission

- The green chambers accused the intervention agency of casting aspersions on its integrity and credibility

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The House of Representatives has responded to allegations levelled against it by the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

The green chambers in a statement sent to journalists on Monday, May 25 by its spokesman, Honourable Benjamin Kalu noted that, contrary to claims by the NDDC that it delayed and padded the commission's 2019 budget, it only compelled the commission to do the needful and render account to the Nigerian people.

The executive director, projects and member of the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the NDDC, Dr Cairo Ojougboh, in an interview on Arise Television, had alleged that the House delayed passage of the commission's budget and also "vandalized” the budget by adding ₦85billion.

Budget padding allegation: House of Reps accuse NDDC of deceiving Nigerians
The House of Rep has accused NDDC of deceiving Nigerians. Photo credit: House of Reps media
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The lower house stated that the claims by Dr Ojougboh were engineered to cast aspersions on its integrity and credibility.

“The claims by Dr Ojougboh that the House of Representatives delayed passage of the 2019 NDDC budget are simply untrue and indicate a concerning ineptitude, ignorance and/or deliberate mischief by the executive director to deceive Nigerians about the financial improprieties of the commission.

“When in reality, it has been the House pushing the commission to do the needful and render account to the Nigerian people,” the lower chambers noted.

The statement continued: “The House recalls that for more than 13 months after the time required by law, the commission deliberately failed to submit its 2019 budget to the National Assembly for approval, choosing instead to engage in illegal and unauthorized spending to the tune of billions of naira.

“It took the intervention of the House, following a motion moved by Rep. Benjamin O. Kalu on November 26, 2019, to compel the commission to present its 2019 budget.

“Till date, the commission has refused to render an account of their 2019 budget expenditures to Nigerians.”

On the allegations of padding, the House noted that it was forced to cut down the budget estimates from ₦409billion to ₦345billion when it was discovered that the commission’s projected expenditures were unrealistic, having exceeded their revenue source by ₦63billion.

The statement also denied insinuations by Dr Ojougboh that the House of Representatives is against the ongoing forensic audit of the commission, stressing that it is untrue and misleading.

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Recall that last month, the NDDC denied reports of the award of COVID-19 procurement contract to a private firm.

A media report had accused the commission of awarding the sum of N5,474,647,125.00 for the procurement of Personal Protective Equipment for health workers and provision of community-based sensitization campaign against the spread of COVID-19 in the Niger Delta region.

The commission in a statement described the report as fake.

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