Alleged inflation of a water hyacinth contract in the Niger Delta from N2.5 billion to a whooping amount of N65 billion by the management of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), generated serious concern in the Senate Thursday, Oct. 17.
The open investigative hearing convened by the Senate Public Account to look into the truth or otherwise of the allegation had to summon the Acting Managing Director of NDDC, Enye Akwagaga, to appear before it on Tuesday next week after receiving communication that she was ill and could not turn up for the hearing.
The visibly disappointed chairman of the Committee, Senator Matthew Urhoghide,(PDP Edo South), rejected the plea by the Commission’s Director for Special Duties, Nosakhare Agbonigisede, to answer questions on behalf of the NDDC boss
He however, directed that all relevant documents on the contract be submitted to the committee on or before Monday for the scrutiny of members of the panel before Tuesday.
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; amount paid to date and Actual Date of Completion.
Also to be forwarded to the Public Accounts Committee are original copies 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.
The probe according to Urhoghide became necessary in order to ascertain if due processes were followed in the award of the contracts, particularly going by available Information that they exceeded budget limits which constitute serious offence.
“What we know is that N2.5billion was budgeted for this activity, that is, (desisting) and clearing of water hyacinths. We are hearing that the Commission has spent N65billion, so we want to know if it is true; is it an allegation or an assumption, we want to know.
“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 expenditure of public funds are done transparently.
“This committee is charged with the responsibility of ensuring that there is transparency, accountability and economy that ensures that 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”, he stressed.