Senate begins probe of alleged N65bn Hyacinth, de-silting contract inflation

gives Tuesday as Ultimatum for NDDC MD to appear before the senate
assures is a move to ensure compliance, not witch-hunt

Chairman Senate Committee on Public Accounts, Matthew Urhoghide has said the investigation by the upper legislative chamber into the allegedly inflated Hyacinth contract by the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) will not be a witch-hunt but focused on compliance to extant rules.

The Senator said this at the opening investigative hearing by the committee in Abuja where the newly appointed Ag. Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) Enyia Akwagaga failed to appear before the committee on grounds of ill health.

The chairman who said anyone fall sick gives Tuesday next week as a new date for Akwagaga, managing director of the NDDC to appear before the committee investigating allegation of inflated contract from N2.5bn to N65bn by the Commission.

Addressing the Commission’s Director for Special Duties, Nosakhare Agbonigisede, who repeatedly sought to address the matter on behalf of the Commission on account of reported ill health by Dr Akwagaga to answer questions on behalf of the NDDC boss,  Senator Urhoghide insisted the MD must appear in person.

“We had invited the acting Managing Director and Management if the NDDC to come and testify before this committee of the Senate on Public Accounts on an issue that has become of national importance, that is, the award of contracts that has to do with the clearing of water hyacinth in the Niger Delta region and of course the de-silting contracts that were awarded by the NDDC under their emergency programme.

“Well, we cannot talk about the details now why we are particularly interested in this investigation. Because of it, we want to be able to ascertain if due processes were followed in the award of these contracts, particularly the Information that we have at our disposal that they exceeded budget limits.

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“Of course, that is a very serious offence. What we are hearing or what we know is that N2.5billion was budgeted for this activity, that is, desilting and clearing of water hyacinths. We are hearing that the Commission has spent the sum of N65billion so we want to know if it is true.

“It is an allegation. It is still an assumption until they come to clear the air surrounding this. This is why the Senate is particularly interested and they mandated this committee to carry out a full investigation. So we want the Acting MD to come. We are aware that the acting MD assumed duties a few weeks ago but the government is a continuum.

“It is not a case of whether she is the one that was in office or not, and again we are very clear that this committee is not out to witch hunt anybody. We want to make sure that all mechanisms, all processes of doing government business particularly when it comes to the expenditure of public funds are done in accordance with laid down processes.

“This committee is charged with the responsibility of ensuring that there is transparency, accountability and economy, that is there is value for money.

“Once we are able to ascertain that the Commission has done it well, of course, they are not going to have any problem. If not, we will recommend appropriate sanctions,” Senator Urhoghide stated.

The Chairman of the committee also specified what the committee would want to see from them in their next appearance.

Dr Akwagaga was directed by the Senate Committee on accounts to forward “all the needed information about the Contract on or before Monday next week.”

The required information to be forwarded to the committee on Monday include project title; Names of Contractors; Location of the Contract; Addresses of the Contractors; Contract sum; date of Award; the amount paid to date and Actual Date of Completion.

Also to be forwarded to the Public Accounts Committee are Original copy of all the Newspaper Advertisements for the contract; Technical Bids for the job by each of the bidders; Financial bids submitted by each of the bidders for the job; Deduction of taxes( VAT and WHT) and evidence of remittances.

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