There was drama on Tuesday following failure of the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), to account for a shortfall of N143billion in its 2019 budget.
Acting Managing Director of the NDDC, Prof. Kemebradikumo Pondei, had led other members of the IMC to appear before the National Assembly Joint Committee on Niger Delta Affairs to defend its 2019 expenditure and also present its 2020 budget proposal.
Pondei, while defending the 2019 budget of the agency, told the lawmakers that the Commission received N305.5billion as revenue in the 2019 and spent N122billion, leaving a balance of N183.2billion.
Pondei said: “In compliance with the provision of the 2019 Appropriation Act, we implemented the 2019 capital budget till May 31st 2020.
“On the expenditure side, 2019 budget implementation was hindered by the delay in its approval and release coupled with the COVID-19 global pandemic.
“Only the recurrent expenditure which runs from January 1st to December 31st, 2019 was implemented substantially.”
Drama however ensued when the Chairman of House of Representatives Committee on NDDC, Hon. Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, asked Pondei to explain why only N40billion out of the N183.2billion balance was brought forward in the submission of the agency before the panel, leaving an outstanding difference of N143billion.
“The Commission is expected to bring a balance of N183.2billion forward in the 2020 budget proposal but the report it submitted to this Committee shows N40billion,” he said.
Other members of the committee pointed out discrepancies in the budget in terms of what is the balance of funds after subtracting the N122 billion expenditure.
A back- and- forth ensued between members of the panel and the MD, who insisted he was standing by the document while members of the committee said the presentation cannot stand in any Parliament in the world.
The Committee further asked the MD if he was ready to sign each page of the document submitted for the purpose of authentication.
The MD first accepted to sign the pages of the document but later declined, requesting for withdrawal of 2019 budget details to enable the Commission address the N143 billion discrepancy raised by Tunji-Ojo.
Members of the joint panel however expressed anger over the request for withdrawal of the 2019 budget details already submitted to the Committee made by the MD.
At this point, the session became a bit rowdy.
However, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi, acceded to the request of the MD of NDDC to withdraw the report and adjourned the 2020 budget defence session of the agency to next Tuesday.