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N423bn spent on projects in Niger Delta – Audit report

From Fred Ezeh, Abuja

The report of a financial audit conducted by an independent audit committee  set up by the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs has revealed that about N423 billion was spent on developmental projects in the oil rich region from 2008 till date.

The committee, which audited the books of the ministry since it was created in 2008 by the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Addua, discovered that over 50 per cent of these projects were duplicated, probably to satisfy selfish or political interests, or as a means to pull out funds from government coffers.

Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Usani Uguru Usani, in a statement signed by the Ministry’s director of press, Marshall Gundu, expressed disappointment that projects and development in the region was not commiserate with the huge amount of money expended on projects in the region by successive government.

He promised to correct the anomalies by first ensuring that, henceforth, all project contract in the region would be subjected to thorough technical audit and status verification to justify expenditure.

In January, the minister, in Abuja, held a meeting with governors of the nine oil-producing states  and chief executives of international oil companies operating in the Niger Delta region, and other stakeholders to strengthen the modalities for infrastructural and human capital development in the region.

They  agreed on ways to sustain the fragile peace in the region, which has resulted in increase in oil production and foreign exchange due to government.

Uguru, however, warned that gone were days that individual firms would embark on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) projects without recourse to the plans and programmes of the government, stressing that such had been responsible for the duplication of projects in the region, as well as misplacement of priorities resulting in slow pace of development in the region.

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