Tell Nigerians How You Plan To Spend $142.5m Released By Shell- Social Action Tells NDDC

Social Action has challenged the Dr. Samuel Ogbuku-led Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to give account of how it plans to spend the $142.5m contribution made by Shell Petroleum Development of Nigeria Ltd (SPDC) and Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company Limited (SNEPCo).

The development comes after the Senate passed the N1.9tn budget of the NDDC for the year 2024.

The group made the call in a statement titled, ‘NDDC N1.9tn 2024 Budget and Shell’s $142.5m Contribution: Social Action Calls For Transparency, Accountability And Inclusiveness In Budget Implementation.’

The group said the NDDC confirmed that SPDC and SNEPCo contributed the $142.5m to the Commission to support social investments and interventions in the Niger Delta, but it expressed dissatisfaction with the lack of transparency in their handling of funds.

The group said, “While we commend NDDC embracing transparency by forth coming with this information, we urge the management of the commission to be more open and provide more details on how the Shell’s contribution will be expended.

“It is not enough to mention that money was received but equally important to tell the public how exactly the fund has or will be utilized. We are calling on NDDC to be more open, transparent and accountable in the management of funds allocated to it.”

The Programmes Coordinator of Social Action, Isaac Botti alleged that the demand was due to NDDC’s culture of budget secrecy over the years.

Botti said “Access to NDDC budget by members of the public is a serious challenge and when requests are made, NDDC will either not respond or ask you to make your request to the Clark of the National Assembly.

“It is important to state that the act of keeping budget documents away from the public is a disservice to NDDC itself as it will continue to lose public trust and confidence; a situation that can lead to serious misinformation and lack of support for the work of the agency.”

Recall that in 2021 former president Buhari inaugurated a forensic audit of NDDC account which exposed how N6tn approved in eight years was poorly utilized.

The audit revealed that 13,777 projects were compromised while the commission operated 362 bank accounts.

“To forestall this kind of situation again, we call on the Management of NDDC to be proactive in making accessible its capital budget and to develop a more community approach to citizens’ engagement and involvements in the implementation of projects situated in their communities. We do not want this situation to continue, nor do we want this money to go in the way of the other funds. The need for probity, and instilling of public trust informed our demands to NDDC.

“We, therefore, want NDDC to be open, inclusive, and accountable in its approach to utilizing allocated or contributed funds. We demand that NDDC engage more grass-root citizens’ for effective implementation of its projects.”

The group explained that transparency in the use of public funds will help the NDDC avoid the influence of unscrupulous politicians who see the commission as their cash cow.

Social Action also urged Shell and its partners to prioritize environmental remediation and sustainability of their operations in the region.

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