Appearing before the Senate Committee on Public Accounts on Monday, officials of the OAGF had alleged that over N70 billion worth of contract by the NDDC between 2008 and 2012 were unaccounted for.
The OAGF had in 2015, submitted its report to the senate committee alleging that the NDDC paid the amount for about 1723 contracts and paid mobilization fee while the contractors didn’t report to site.
According to the report: “further scrutiny of the records revealed that 90 per cent of these contracts were awarded between 2011 and 2012 and some of these contractors had about four jobs.
“The N70 billion did not even include some contractors who went to site but had very minimal achievements and those whose contract had been declared as stalled,” the report further said.
The OAGF therefore said that the blame should not only go to the contractors but also to the management of the NDDC who were awarding contracts without site identification.
However in a swift reaction, Mr. Jimoh Egbejule, Director of Finance of the NDDC said that it discovered in its records that only N11 billion was paid as mobilization fee during the period referenced by the OAGF.
He said that the commission had contracted a consultant to look into its books and only N11 billion was discovered as mobilization paid within the period under review.
However, representatives of the Accountant General’s office, who were at the public hearing insisted on the initial figure of N70 billion.
In view of the disagreements, the committee chaired by Sen. Andy Uba gave the institutions four weeks to meet and reconcile their records and report back to the committee.
Sen. Ubah while noting that the Managing Director of the NDDC was still new and had no knowledge of the issues said the committee would reconvene in one month to consider the matter.
The senator said: “I want to assure Nigerians that the 8th Senate Public Accounts Committee will ensure that there is transparency, probity and accountability in the management of public funds.
“All government financial transactions must be conducted according to financial regulations, extant acts and the constitution. The committee will like to urge all MDAs to respond promptly to its requests and summons to avoid sanctions.”
While responding to questions after the public hearing, Mrs Ibim Semenitari, Acting Managing Director of the NDDC said that there could be some errors in the report.
While apologizing for the discrepancies, she said that the commission would immediately get to work and investigate the details of the Auditor General’s report.
The acting MD added that the commission under her leadership would not shield any contractor that is found to have defaulted in contract execution.
She said: “Government is a continuum and there are documents to look at: quite frankly the Auditor General’s queries are in the interest of the country.
“The Senate Public Account Committee is to hold institutions accountable to the people of Nigeria. For us we will go back we sit with the Auditor General’s office, we will look through our records and respond to each query one after the other.
“You also have to understand that sometimes in documentations, there will be inconsistencies but not necessarily indicative of fraud. Once the Auditor General’s Office finishes a check, they will raise queries and it is for the institution to respond to those queries and once they respond the AGF will then produce a report.
“So as it stands we are at the level of looking at those queries and responding to them. Even though I wasn’t there at the time, I can assure you that this is a government that is committed to transparency there will be no reason to hide if there are things to expose.
“We welcome this and we can assure you that there will be no sacred cow, there will be no hiding place, we will respond in all honesty, we will not shield any contractor.”