The 2020 budget defence of the Niger Delta Development Commission ended abruptly at the Senate on Tuesday as its Interim Management Committee failed to account for a shortfall of N143bn in its 2019 budget.
Kemebradikumo Pondei, Acting Managing Director of the NDDC, had led other members of the IMC to appear before a joint panel of the National Assembly.
Pondei during the hearing failed to reconcile some differences in the 2019 budget performance of the commission.
The 2019 budget expired in May.
The Managing Director, who said the commission spent N122bn but later revised N264bn, could not respond to a question on what the NDDC had left.
“In compliance with the provision of the 2019 Appropriation Act, we implemented the 2019 capital budget till May 31, 2020.
“On the expenditure side, 2019 budget implementation was hindered by the delay in its approval and release coupled with the COVID-19 global pandemic.
“Only the recurrent expenditure which runs from January 1st to December 31st, 2019 was implemented substantially,” Pondei said.
In response, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, House Chairman on NDDC, said, “What you have here, spent is N122bn from what you said from the actual money you received, you received N305,570,683,529.87.
“If you received N305bn and you spent N122bn, what you are telling us now is that the available fund as we speak now will be N183,315,748,214.58.
“Would that be a available to be brought forward? What I’m saying is just a simple basic accounting question. You said you generated N305 billion. It is just a yes or no question.”
Pondei responded, saying, “The expenditure is actually N264bn.”
Tunji-Ojo then asked, “So what you are saying on your summary page is wrong?”
Pondei reacted and said, “The real breakdown is in the appendix.”
Other members of the committee pointed out discrepancies in the budget in terms of what was the balance of funds after subtracting the N122bn expenditure.
A back-and-forth aruguement ensued between members of the panel and Pondei, who insisted he was standing by the document while members of the committee said the presentation cannot stand in any Parliament in the world.
The committee further asked the MD if he was ready to sign each page of the document submitted for the purpose of authentication.
The MD first accepted to sign the pages of the document but later declined, requesting for withdrawal of 2019 budget details to enable the commission address the N143bn discrepancy raised by Tunji-Ojo.
Members of the joint panel however, expressed anger over the request for withdrawal of the 2019 budget details already submitted to the Committee made by the MD.