The Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission, Samuel Ogbuku, and Chairman of the Board, Lauretta Onochie, fought dirty on Friday when they accused one another of being corrupt.
The MD and Board Chairman engaged in sordid exchanges during an investigative hearing by the Senate Committee.
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The hearing was on unauthorised spending of the 2021 and 2022 budget of the agency without the National Assembly approval.
The Managing Director was represented at the session by the Executive Director in charge of Finance and Administration, Charles Airhiavere, while Onochie appeared in person.
Airhiavere accused Onochie of overstepping her bounds by desperately seeking to be a signatory to NDDC’s accounts.
He alleged that Onochie even wrote a letter to the Accountant-General of the Federation seeking to be made a signatory to the agency’s accounts.
Onochie, however, said the decision for her to be a signatory to the accounts was taken by the board at one of its meetings, adding that it was not a personal decision.
She said the request for change of signatory was rejected because the Central Bank of Nigeria directed the Managing Director to ensure that her confirmation was sought in every financial transaction.
“The CBN said I should be the confirming authority but they didn’t come back to me. That is why they have been operating the way they like,” Onochie said.
Onochie, however, accused the Managing Director and the entire management of running the commission in breach of financial regulations.
She alleged that the NDDC management currently operates a total of 367 accounts against the dictates of the Treasury Single Accounts policy of the Federal Government.
According to Onochie, all these accounts are in foreign exchange.
The Managing Director denied the existence of 367 accounts in the agency, but admitted that it operates four.
Onochie also informed the Senate that since the board assumed office in January 2023, it had not enjoyed the cooperation of the management of the NDDC.
She alleged that the Managing Director had been frustrating attempts to hold board meetings where necessary decisions ought to be taken.
This allegation was rejected by the Managing Director who said the main problem arose from what he called “trust deficit” between the board and the management.
Airhiavere also said that the board never gave sufficient notice of any board meeting as required by law.
Onochie further informed the Senate Committee that part of the abuse of financial regulations displayed by the Ogbuku-led management was the increase of the monthly imprest for the Managing Director from N4 billion to N10 billion.
The Senate Committee, led by Senator Yusuf Yusuf (APC, Taraba Central), expressed shock at the disclosures made by the board and the management of the NDDC.
Yusuf directed Onochie and Ogbuku to appear before it on Monday to substantiate their allegations.