22 December 2015, Lagos – President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, wielded the big stick on the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, management with the sack of the Managing Director, Mr. Bassey Dan-Abia, and the two Executive Directors for Finance and Projects.
The President, in a statement by the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, also announced the appointment of the immediate past Rivers State Information Commissioner, Mrs. Ibim Semenitari, as acting Managing Director, pending the appointment of a substantive board.
Vanguard learned from sources in the commission that Mrs. Semenitari would assume office today in Port Harcourt, having accepted the appointment with immediate effect and promised to do her best within the period of her tenure.
“Yes, she has already asked our Abuja office to provide her with vehicles and logistics on Tuesday morning to enable her to take over with immediate effect,” the source in the NDDC told our correspondent on phone from Port Harcourt.
The removal of the board, it was learned, was done by the Presidency as a compromise position to appease the chairman and state coordinators of the agency, who were earlier removed from office in July this year.
The sacked board, led by its chairman, Senator Ewa Henshaw, it was learned, had challenged in court, their removal from office by the Presidency, while retaining the management led by Bassey Dan-Abia, arguing that it was in breach of the Act establishing the commission.
But the sacked board members are said to have withdrawn their case against the Presidency when convinced that the management team led by Abia would soon be shown their way out.
It will be recalled that the agency had been accused of contract-splitting, spending of huge public funds on irrelevant and non-existing projects and substandard jobs.
The commission was also on the spot for not responding to an audit query issued to its management by the Auditor-General of the Federation over the commission’s inability to account for N183.7 billion which passed through it between 2008 and 2012.
Documents obtained by Vanguard show that within its first two weeks, the Managing Director allegedly single-handedly issued a local purchasing order, LPO, valued at N888.175 million to a Port Harcourt-based car dealer to supply 40 assorted vehicles although the commission was not in short supply of cars.
Among the vehicles ordered, four were armoured Sport Utility Lexus and Landcruiser vehicles valued at N213.8 million. It was not clear when the vehicles were supplied and who is using them.
Shortly after the acquisition of the vehicles, the commission allegedly ordered the procurement of security vehicles for the Nigeria Police at the cost of N12.5 billion to enable the police to provide adequate security for the nine Niger Delta states of Abia, Imo, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Bayelsa, Rivers, Edo, Delta and Ondo states.
However, to prevent the huge contract from getting to the BPP and the FEC for scrutiny and approval, the commission allegedly split the supply job into 12 slots and awarded it to their loved ones and associates at the cost of N985 million to each of the contractors.