I have last set of questions that made acting NDDC MD, Professor Kemebradikumo Daniel Pondei to faint during the House probe has been produced below.
Committee Member: . . . Project line to authorize that ‘Take Care of Ourself’. In the budget of 2019 that we approved for you?
Pondei: If I had said “take care of ourself” I would have said that in error.
Chairman: MD, You are before this committee. Answer the question direct because you are under oath. Answer the question that 1.5 billion naira covid-19 palliative you took.
Pondei: It was not 1.5 billion please. The figure is 1,32 billion.
Chairman: 1.32 billion.
Chairman: Now the question the honourable member is asking you is where do you have in the budget line of 2019 where you derive the power to spend that money?
Pondei: I will provide that answer for you.
Pondei: I don’t want to lie under oath. I will provide the answer for you.
CM: MD, I know you are a very learned person. Will it be right for us to say that you did extra-budgeting expenditure which was not budgeted for?
Pondei: I will not say so. Let me ask my EDP to explain because I don’t want to lie concerning that.
CM: Is he under oath?
Pondei: He is not under oath. That’s why I said I will provide the answer.
Chairman: MD, you have the budget with you. The budget of 2019, You have it with you. Correct? (No response as Prof. Pondei keeps the committee in suspense and the chairman repeats the question); MD, 2019 budget in which you have told the committee is the budget you are operating on. You have it.
Pondei: Mr. Chairman, I said I will provide the answer to you.
Chairman: You have the budget with you.
Pondei: In front of me here sir. (Prof. Pondei becomes nervous and the last three steps are repeated,) It will be sent to your committee.
Chairman: The budget of 2019, you tendered it here.
Pondei: I gave the letter of . . . ( he is interrupted by the chairman)
Chairman: That is not the budget. That is not the budget we signed. The budget we signed for you in 2019, you have it here.
Pondei: I said I will provide this for you. They have gone to make copies.
Chairman: You don’t have the budget here?
Pondei: Yes I don’t have it here. It will be provided to you.
CM: Mr. Chairman sir, my leaders and colleagues. may I request that with your permission, the clerk of this secretariat furnishes this gentleman, a copy of the budget we approved for the NDDC . . . I have read the letter sent to you have various documents you were asked to furnish to this committee. So if you don’t have the budget here, we have a committee on library and research . . . please gets us a copy of the 2019 appropriation.
(Members deliberate on the availability of the 2019 budget for NDDC)
Chairman: MD please. From the financial report you have given, how much did you receive from the time the Interim Management was set up? As the chief accounting officer.
Pondei: So far this interim management would have received about 72 billion.
CM: In accounting parlance you don’t say about. 2 plus 2 is 4. . . Between February and July how much have you received? (Prof keeps the committee in suspense again)
CM: Did you pay 641 million naira to Clear Point Communication. As the MD of NDDC, was that money budgeted for 2019? What is the money meant for?
Pondei: Yes sir. This money is part of the 2,5 billion naira in the 2019 budget for the forensic audit.
Chairman: Speak out.
Pondei: In the 2019 budget, there was a proposal for forensic audit. Out of which about 1.2 was approved. And out of that. . . I think 318 was approved for the lead auditors and only a small percentage has been paid out before the budget expired on the 31st.
CM: I said this money you paid to Clear Point Communication intends for what? And was this budgeted for in 2019?
Pondei: The money was paid to Clear Point Communication for a variety of purposes all related to the forensic audit. There are 185 Local Governments Areas and each of them was budgeted for 3.46 million. One, allowances for coordinators per local government area, training for the coordinators, setting up of information desk for the coordinators. These coordinators are the people to identify the sites of all the projects in the NDDC area. Because part of the problem if you read the auditor general’s report on NDDC from 2008 to 2012. . . (Interrupted)
CM: Okay, you contracted Clear Point Communication to itemize the projects in NDDC areas?
Pondei: No. we get local people in each of the areas to identify this sites.
CM: The site for what?
Pondei: where the NDDC projects are because most times when they go for inspection, if you are not able to locate these projects, some local people . . .
CM: So you pay 6.1 million to Clear Point Communication to ask people to locate project of the NDDC?
Pondei: Listen sir . . . you pay money to be trained also. .. . ( He is interrupted)
CM: The only way you contract Clear Point is to ask people to find projects for you?
Pondei: Clear Point has been a consultant in NDDC before I even came in. They are putting just table and front desk and communication desk in all the places to locate the project.
CM: Is 6.1 budgeted for Clear Point in the line item of 2019 budget?
Pondei: I wouldn’t say Clear Point was written in that budget, as a line item, I don’t think so.
CM: Okay. Again, 536 million naira was given to a company with a campaign tagged ‘Save Lives In The Niger Delta Area’. That company . . . we want to know the company. And is this 538 million budgeted to Save Life of Niger Delta People? (Pondei is confused and ask an aide which one is Save Life campaign)
CM: I am bring out this based on the report you gave to us. 641 to Clear Point Communication, 536 to Save Life Campaign in the Niger Delta region.
Pondei: I will need to check and get back to you.
CM: okay fine. Next thing.
CM: Mr. Chairman. Thank you for yielding the floor to me.tjhe short point I want to make is that he reported that we are asking you questions about the budget. Under section 80 of the 99 constitution of which guides us, apart from law making, the other job we do is oversight. We have this power of the trust, The most important power we have is power of the trust. That power of the trust is the budget. The basic question we are asking you here has to do with the budget. The budget is very important. Even to private individuals because we are as an agency to spend money outside your budget. I hope you know that?
Pondei: Yes sir.
CM: You told us under oath right here that you are still preparing to pay money to students who are on scholarship. We are aware that you don’t a 2020 budget yet. What you are operating is the 2019 budget which as you know and as we know ended May 31st 2020, we are now in July. So we are not expected to spend money from budget 2019 as expired. Where are you going to spend this money that you said on oath to pay students who are on scholarship? Are you aware that every expenditure you make from 31st May till date are not . . . are not . . .
…. NDDC MD FAINTS and attempt to revive him is successful and he is rushed to the hospital. End of questioning for him as committee adjourns for 30 minutes