NDDC paid ‘scholarship grants’ to MD, directors – Senate report

Scholarships

Top authorities of the Niger Delta Advancement Commission (NDDC) paid themselves scholarship grants at a time hundreds of deserving scholarship recipients had actually not been paid for years and were stranded in various nations, a report has actually revealed.

The report by legislators joins the other discoveries that emanated from the National Assembly’s investigation into costs by the NDDC, which has produced mixed responses amongst Nigerians.

The Senate had on May 5, set up a seven-member ad-hoc committee to probe the “monetary recklessness” of the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the NDDC.

The committee was specifically asked to probe the IMC for presumably squandering N40 billion in 3 months.

In the exact same vein, your house of Representatives Committee on Niger Delta started an investigative hearing on the supposed mismanagement of N81.5 billion in between January and July by the commission.

Investigative hearings carried out by the Senate and Home committees in July, witnessed allegations and counter-accusations in between some legislators and members of the NDDC, to name a few discoveries.

Besides how lawmakers presumably ‘hijacked‘ NDDC tasks and how the commission spent N1.3 billion for personnel as ‘COVID-19 relief funds’, the most recent major discovery is how the NDDC paid scholarship grants to the Managing Director, Daniel Pondei, and other leading authorities of the commission.

This was contained in the report of the Senate ad-hoc committee acquired by PREMIUM TIMES.

Leading among the beneficiaries are Mr Pondei, the acting deputy director, jobs, Cairo Ojougboh, and another director, Luke Ibanga.The report The Senate

had on July 23 considered the report of the panel that exposed the ‘careless’ and ‘budgetless’ spending by the IMC.

According to the file, the NDDC’s account showed that a number of personnel were awarded varying amounts of cash as “foreign postgraduate scholarship 2nd trip 2020” abroad. And within the duration under review (October 2019 and May 2020), the organisation invested N347 million on “Education Grants and Scholarship”.

Thirty-two beneficiaries were noted in the report of which Messrs Pondei and Ojougboh were paid N5.6 million each for “foreign postgraduate scholarship 2nd journey 2020”. Mr Ibanga was paid two times– N5.19 million and N3.7 million for the exact same purpose.

The report also listed a Seledi Wakama who was paid N3.5 million two times for the exact same purpose. It is uncertain if the abovementioned is a personnel of the commission.

The file also mentions a “Marg Expert” that was paid N3.5 million twice, for the very same function. And another “Marg Educational International Limited” paid the amount of N106.2 million for “2019 NDDC Foreign postgraduate plan and data infrastructure scheme and admin cost.” The committee wondered if the N106 million paid to the latter was for services rendered to the NDDC.

“… Nevertheless the character of the transaction recommends that Marg worldwide is a ‘middleman’ or an agent for foreign postgraduate admission. The justification of this expense is doubtful especially when potential students can straight approach any organization of their option; and especially so when existing scholarship holders are yet to be paid their allowances,” part of the report read.

The date for the approval of these payments were not specified, the function of payment, however, recommends 2020.

Mr Pondei, throughout the hearing, had complained that the NDDC is currently owing students studying abroad from 2016 to date and the commission is “clearing the stockpile”.

The report even more questioned why Mr Pondei and other leading authorities were part of the beneficiaries.

“Looking through the account revealed above, it was uncertain if these education grants were really being paid to personnel who are stranded abroad as depicted by the MD/CEO. The names of recipients on the account included the interim MD/CEO– Kemebradikumo Pondei, the ED, Project Cairo Ojuogboh and other notable Directors such as Luke Ibanga. Infact Luke Ibanga got the payment two times.

“From the public hearing; the interim MD/CEO specified that he is presently not studying being a professor currently, for that reason seeing his name on the list as a recipient of a scholarship grant is absolutely unforeseen.”

This comes at a time when Nigerian students under the NDDC scholarship are apparently stranded abroad since of the alleged lack of funding from the commission.

The trainees, in May, wrote to the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, grumbling that life for them abroad has actually been intensified by the coronavirus pandemic which has prevented them from even engaging in routine tasks for survival.

President Muhammadu Buhari has, nevertheless, directed the NDDC to pay the fees and stipends of scholars of the commission who are dealing with difficulties abroad.

This was revealed in a declaration by the Director of Corporate Affairs at the NDDC, Charles Odili, Channels Tv reported.

He discussed that the hold-up in remittance of the costs of the scholars was caused by the abrupt death of the then acting Executive Director of Financing and Administration (EDFA), Ibanga Etang, in Might. He said the students’ fees and stipends would be paid by the end of the week.

Since the discoveries emerged people and civic groups have actually been requiring the prosecution of guilty NDDC officials in addition to sanction of lawmakers who are complicit in the NDDC scandal.